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Crime News Murders

Texas Woman Charged with Murder after Shooting Uber Driver She Thought Was Kidnapping Her

Phoebe Copas allegedly shot Uber driver Daniel Piedra Garcia after mistakenly believing she was being kidnapped and taken to Mexico. Police say there's no evidence the driver had any such plans.

By Elisabeth Ford
Killer Motive: What Drives People To Kill?

A Texas woman has been charged with murder after she allegedly shot her Uber drive while mistakenly believing she was being kidnapped.

Phoebe Copas, 48, is being held on a $1.5 million bond, the El Paso Police said in a statement Thursday.

Police said there's no evidence that Copas was being kidnapped during the incident, nor that her driver, 52-year-old Daniel Piedra Garcia, veered from her destination route.

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According to court documents reviewed by NBC affiliate KTSM, Copas was in El Paso to visit her boyfriend. She had paid for an Uber to take her to a local casino on June 16 to meet her boyfriend after he got out of work.

“At some point during the drive, Copas thought she was being taken into Mexico and shot Piedra,” police alleged.

Court documents state that Copas believed Piedra Garcia was attempting to kidnap her and take her out of Texas after seeing traffic signs for Juarez, Mexico. That's when Copas allegedly pulled a handgun out of her purse and shot Piedra Garcia in the back of the head several times, causing the car to crash on the US-54 highway.

A booking photo of Phoebe Copas

Copas reportedly snapped a photo of Piedra Garcia after she was shot, and texted it to her boyfriend, before calling the cops/

Officers responding to the scene saw Copas “drop everything she was holding in her hands on the ground. Included with the items that fell to the ground, was a brown and silver handgun,” the court documents stated, according to KTSM.

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The documents also said that the crash happened in an area with no immediate access to travel into Mexico.

“The investigation does not support that a kidnapping took place or that Piedra was veering from Copas’ destination,” police said in a statement.

A photo of Daniel Piedra Garcia

A GoFundMe page created by the victim’s wife, Anna Piedra, said that Piedra Garcia was the “sole provider” for his family and was “very happy to finally be able to work and bring home income” after he hurt his knee at a previous job and had to have surgery in April.

“Today we unfortunately had to disconnect my husband as the doctors did not give any chance that he would survive, Anna Piedra wrote in the post. “After being disconnected he sadly passed.”

"He was a hardworking man and really funny," Piedra Garcia's niece, Didi Lopez, told the El Paso Times.

Piedra Garcia began working as an Uber Driver a few weeks ago and would pick up passengers from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., the news outlet reported.

On June 16, Piedra Garcia’s family believed he had picked up his last customer, but started to worry when he didn't answer his phone.

When someone mentioned to the family that an article reported that an Uber driver had been shot, they called the El Paso Police Department’s nonemergency line, the Times reported.

“That's when they told them that it was him,” Lopez told the Times. “And so for us to go to the hospital. That's how we found out."

Doctors told the family that “his brain was destroyed, but that there was a percentage of his brain that was still functioning,” Lopez said.

Lopez said that her family decided to take Piedra Garcia off life support because of the state he was in after being shot. He died on June 21. 

"His status was not gonna change if we did not disconnect him," Lopez said. "It was basically just gonna be like in a vegetative state. We didn't want to see him suffering. We didn't want him to live out his life like that.

Copas was initially arrested on charges of aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury, but her charge was upgraded to murder.

“We just want justice for him. That's all we're asking," Lopez told the Times.

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