Officers escort Sylvan Alcachupas, 27, to a waiting police cruiser to take him to jail. Alcachupas is charged with murder, robbery and tampering with evidence. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)



Homicide detectives have arrested a man they say shot the owner of a Southeast Albuquerque pizzeria during a robbery Tuesday night.

Sylvan Alcachupas, 27, has been charged with murder, robbery and tampering with evidence.

Around 9:20 p.m. officers were alerted to a shooting by ShotSpotter gun shot detection system and by an employee of Giovanni’s Pizzeria who said his boss had been killed in a shootout. When officers arrived at the shopping center on San Pedro just south of Kathryn SE, they found 57-year-old Rosario Zito dead.

Around the same time officers detained a man, later identified as Alcachupas, two blocks east of the shopping center. According to a criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court, Alcachupas handed something to a woman before he was detained. The woman has not been found.

Alcachupas had a live round in his pocket as well as some cash and was wearing the same clothes as the suspect who was seen on security camera footage, according to the complaint. Detectives say the round matched the casings found at the scene.

A maintenance worker cleans the front of Giovanni’s Pizza after the fatal shooting the owner during a robbery Tuesday night. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

Zito’s employees told detectives they were closing up the shop a little after 9 p.m. and were talking in front of the door when a man approached them, pointed a gun and said “you are getting robbed. Empty your pockets on the ground.” They said he fired a shot at one of their cars.

The employees dropped about $15 in tips on the ground and the man picked it up. As he walked away he began challenging Zito, asking him “you wanna play?” according to the complaint.

They said Zito said “yeah let’s play” and grabbed a gun from his car. The suspect shot at Zito and Zito shot back, according to the complaint. Zito was hit and the employees said the man stayed by his body for 10 to 20 seconds before running away with stuff in his hands.

When Alcachupas was interviewed he told detectives he didn’t hear gunshots, or didn’t notice them, and he denied being involved. However, he also asked if he was being charged with murder even though detectives had only told him that shots had been fired in the area.

He was taken to the county jail Wednesday morning.