A Kentucky woman has been accused of fatally shooting her West Texas Uber driver after mistakenly believing she was being kidnapped and taken to Mexico, according to police.
Phoebe Copas, 48, remained jailed on Sunday in El Paso, Texas, after being charged with murder last week in the death of 52-year-old Daniel Piedra Garcia.
The shooting took place at about 2pm on June 16 as Piedra was driving Copas to a location in southeast El Paso.
Copas, who is from Tompkinsville, Kentucky, was in El Paso visiting her boyfriend, according to authorities.
During the ride, Copas saw traffic signs that read ‘Juarez, Mexico,’ according to an arrest affidavit. El Paso is located on the U.S.-Mexico border across from Juarez.
Believing she was being kidnapped and taken to Mexico, Copas is accused of grabbing a handgun from her purse and shooting Piedra in the head, according to the affidavit.
Phoebe Copas, 48, from Kentucky has been arrested and charged with murder in El Paso, Texas, for allegedly fatally shooting her Uber driver, Daniel Piedra Garcia
Daniel Piedra Garcia, 52, was driving to a location in southeast El Paso to visit her boyfriend but saw signs saying ‘Juarez, Mexico’ leading her to believe she was being kidnapped
Copas is seen being stretchered away following the incident
The vehicle he was driving crashed into barriers before coming to a stop on a freeway.
The area where the car crashed was ‘not in close proximity of a bridge, port of entry or other area with immediate access to travel into Mexico,’ a police affidavit stated.
‘The roadway Copas was traveling on is a normal route to drive to the destination requested by the Copas.
‘The investigation does not support that a kidnapping took place or that Piedra was veering from Copas’ destination,’ police said.
Police allege that before she called 911, Copas took a photo of Piedra after the shooting and texted it to her boyfriend.
When police arrived on the scene at about 2:20pm they found Copas being helped out of the car by her boyfriend.
At center, Ana Piedra, the wife of Daniel Piedra Garcia, is comforted by family and friends during a vigil for her husband who was fatally shot while driving for Uber
Ana Piedra, the wife of Daniel Piedra Garcia, wipes away tears during a memorial for him
Friends, family, community members and fellow Uber drivers gathered to remember Piedra
She dropped everything she was holding in her hands onto the ground, including a brown and silver handgun. Video shot by CBS4 saw Copas being taken away by ambulance.
Piedra was found slumped over in the driver’s seat of the car having been shot in the head.
He was hospitalized for several days before his family took him off life support after doctors told them he would not recover.
‘He was a hardworking man and really funny,’ Piedra’s niece, Didi Lopez, told the El Paso Times.
‘He was never in a bad mood. He was always the one that, if he saw you in a bad mood, he’d come over and try to lift you up.’
The family believe Piedra was working his last ride of the day when he picked up Copas.
The family believe that Piedra was working his last ride of the day when he picked up Copas
A GoFundMe campaign set up by Piedra’s family said he was their sole provider and had only recently started working again after being injured in his previous job
Police investigate on top of an overpass following the shooting in which Piedra was shot
‘He picked her up, but time went on, and so his wife, was calling him and calling him and texting him, and he wouldn’t answer his phone. So, then that’s when she started calling everybody else,’ Lopez recalled.
‘They started calling all the hospitals, trying to see if he was there. And then someone had mentioned the article that came out about an Uber driver being shot. They called the El Paso Police Department and that’s when they told them that it was him. And so for us to go to the hospital. That’s how we found out.’
Copas, who is being held on a $1.5 million bond, was originally charged with aggravated assault but the charge has since been upgraded to murder after Piedra died.
A GoFundMe campaign set up by Piedra’s family said he was their sole provider and had only recently started working again after being injured in his previous job.
‘I wish she would’ve spoken up, asked questions, not acted on impulse and make a reckless decision, because not only did she ruin our lives, but she ruined her life, too,’ Lopez said.
‘What we were told originally was that the lady saw the sign on the freeway that said it was Mexico,’ she explained.
‘She panicked and thought that my uncle was kidnapping her. And so her instinct was to shoot him and she shot him multiple times in the head.’
‘We just want justice for him. That’s all we’re asking.’