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 Sunday in El Paso, Texas, after being charged with murder last week in the death of 52-year-old Daniel Piedra Garcia.
Copas allegedly shot Garcia on U.S. Route 54 as he was driving her to a destination in El Paso’s Mission Valley on June 16, the El Paso Police Department said in a statement.
“At some point during the drive, Copas thought she was being taken into Mexico and shot Piedra. The investigation does not support that a kidnapping took place or that Piedra was veering from Copas’ destination,” the statement said.
Copas was arrested and initially charged with aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury, a second-degree felony.
Piedra was hospitalized for several days before his family took him off life support after doctors told them he would not recover.
After Piedra died, police said they’d be bringing murder charges against Copas.
Court and jail records did not list an attorney who could speak for Copas. She is being held on a $1.5 million bond, according to The Associated Press.
The shooting took place as 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. The vehicle 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,” according to the affidavit.
Police allege that before she called 911, Copas took a photo of Piedra after the shooting and texted it to her boyfriend.
“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.”
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. “We just want justice for him. That’s all we’re asking.”