Woman fatally shot an Uber driver in Texas. Police say she wrongly thought she was being kidnapped

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Aaron Martinez, USA TODAY NETWORK

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EL PASO, Texas − A woman accused of shooting her Uber driver in West Texas after mistakenly believing she was being kidnapped into Mexico has been charged with murder, authorities said.

Phoebe Copas, 48, who is from Tompkinsville, Kentucky, was visiting her boyfriend in El Paso, Texas, when the driver was shot June 16. The El Paso Police Department said Copas shot 52-year-old Daniel Piedra Garcia in the head while he was driving her to a location in far southeast El Paso.

According to a complaint affidavit, Copas saw traffic signs that read “Juarez, Mexico,” during her ride and falsely believed she was being kidnapped and taken to Mexico. El Paso is on the U.S.-Mexico border across from Juarez.

El Paso Police officers initially arrested and charged Copas on suspicion of aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury. Copas was booked into the El Paso County Jail and remained jailed Sunday.

With Piedra's death, the charge has been upgraded to murder, El Paso Police Department officials said. Copas' bond is now set at $1.5 million.

Phoebe Copas, 48, of Tompkinsville, Kentucky, is accused of fatally shooting an Uber driver.

Suspect claims fear of kidnapping was reason for shooting

Piedra picked up Copas at about 2 p.m. in a gray Nissan Maxima and was driving her to meet with her boyfriend, the affidavit says.

As they drove on U.S. 54 southbound in South-Central El Paso, Copas saw traffic signs that showed the words "Juarez, Mexico." That led her to believe Piedra was trying to kidnap her and take her across the border, the affidavit says.

Copas is accused of grabbing a silver and brown handgun from her purse and shooting Piedra in the back right side of his head, according to the affidavit. The vehicle crashed into roadway barriers before coming to a stop on the 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," the affidavit says. "The roadway (Copas) was traveling on is a normal route to drive to the destination requested."

Before calling 911, police say, Copas took a photo of Piedra after he was shot and sent it to her boyfriend via text message. Officers arrived at the scene and saw Copas being helped out of the car by her boyfriend.

Copas then dropped everything she was holding in her hands to the ground, including a brown and silver handgun, the affidavit says. Officers found Piedra slumped in the driver's seat.

Copas was detained as police investigated the shooting. Piedra was taken to University Medical Center of El Paso for treatment.

Piedra was declared brain dead at the hospital

Piedra was hospitalized for several days before his family took him off life support after doctors told them he would not recover. The decision devastated the family, Piedra's niece Didi Lopez said.

"His status was not going to change if we did not disconnect him," Lopez said. "It was basically just going to 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.

"It was hard because we wanted him to, of course, wake up and continue living his life, but we basically didn't make the decision. The decision was made for us and for him the second that those bullets went inside of his head."

A GoFundMe account was created to help raise money for the family of Daniel Piedra Garcia, an Uber driver who died after being shot by a passenger Friday, June 16, 2023, on US 54 in South-Central El Paso.

'A hardworking man'

All Piedra wanted to do was provide for his family and be there when they needed him the most.

"He was a hardworking man and really funny," Lopez said. "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 and always was making us laugh. Such a funny, caring and hardworking man."

Three weeks ago, Piedra, the sole provider of his household, began driving for Uber. He began his shift by picking up passengers at 7 a.m. and ending it around 2 p.m.

On June 16 he picked up his last customer of the day, and as his shift neared its end, his wife had not heard from him.

She called and texted him but received no answer.

Piedra's family "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) nonemergency number and then 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."

Community comes together to support family, remember Piedra

Since the shooting, the El Paso community has come together to help Piedra's family and honor his life, which was cut way too short, Lopez said.

"We want justice," Lopez said. "It wasn't fair that that's how the situation played out. I wish she (Copas) 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. We just want justice for him. That's all we're asking."

A vigil for Piedra was held Friday at a local park, and his family welcomed the community to celebrate Piedra's life and memory.

"We basically just wanted to open it up to the community because his funeral will be private," Lopez said. "We have seen how much people are backing us up online and all the people who have donated. And so we kind of wanted a chance to give the community a moment to just kind of grieve with us and see their support in real life."

A GoFundMe page was created to help the family pay for hospital and funeral expenses.

Contributing: The Associated Press

Aaron Martinez may be reached at amartinez1@elpasotimes.com or on Twitter  @AMartinezEPT .

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY NETWORK: Uber driver fatally shot by woman who thought she was being kidnapped

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USA TODAY. 6k. Aaron Martinez, USA TODAY NETWORK. Updated. · 5 min read. EL PASO, Texas − A woman accused of shooting her Uber driver in West Texas after mistakenly believing she was being kidnapped into Mexico has been charged with murder, authorities said. Phoebe Copas, 48, who is from Tompkinsville, Kentucky, was visiting her boyfriend in El Paso, Texas, when the driver was shot June 16. The El Paso Police Department said Copas shot 52-year-old Daniel Piedra Garcia in the head while he was driving her to a location in far southeast El Paso. According to a complaint affidavit, Copas saw traffic signs that read “Juarez, Mexico,” during her ride and falsely believed she was being kidnapped and taken to Mexico. El Paso is on the U.S.-Mexico border across from Juarez. El Paso Police officers initially arrested and charged Copas on suspicion of aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury. Copas was booked into the El Paso County Jail and remained jailed Sunday. With Piedra's death, the charge has been upgraded to murder, El Paso Police Department officials said. Copas' bond is now set at $1.5 million. Phoebe Copas, 48, of Tompkinsville, Kentucky, is accused of fatally shooting an Uber driver.. Suspect claims fear of kidnapping was reason for shooting. Piedra picked up Copas at about 2 p.m. in a gray Nissan Maxima and was driving her to meet with her boyfriend, the affidavit says. As they drove on U.S. 54 southbound in South-Central El Paso, Copas saw traffic signs that showed the words "Juarez, Mexico." That led her to believe Piedra was trying to kidnap her and take her across the border, the affidavit says. Copas is accused of grabbing a silver and brown handgun from her purse and shooting Piedra in the back right side of his head, according to the affidavit. The vehicle crashed into roadway barriers before coming to a stop on the 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," the affidavit says. "The roadway (Copas) was traveling on is a normal route to drive to the destination requested." Before calling 911, police say, Copas took a photo of Piedra after he was shot and sent it to her boyfriend via text message. Officers arrived at the scene and saw Copas being helped out of the car by her boyfriend. Copas then dropped everything she was holding in her hands to the ground, including a brown and silver handgun, the affidavit says. Officers found Piedra slumped in the driver's seat. Copas was detained as police investigated the shooting. Piedra was taken to University Medical Center of El Paso for treatment. Piedra was declared brain dead at the hospital. Piedra was hospitalized for several days before his family took him off life support after doctors told them he would not recover. The decision devastated the family, Piedra's niece Didi Lopez said. "His status was not going to change if we did not disconnect him," Lopez said. "It was basically just going to 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. "It was hard because we wanted him to, of course, wake up and continue living his life, but we basically didn't make the decision. The decision was made for us and for him the second that those bullets went inside of his head." A GoFundMe account was created to help raise money for the family of Daniel Piedra Garcia, an Uber driver who died after being shot by a passenger Friday, June 16, 2023, on US 54 in South-Central El Paso.. 'A hardworking man' All Piedra wanted to do was provide for his family and be there when they needed him the most. "He was a hardworking man and really funny," Lopez said. "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 and always was making us laugh. Such a funny, caring and hardworking man." Three weeks ago, Piedra, the sole provider of his household, began driving for Uber. He began his shift by picking up passengers at 7 a.m. and ending it around 2 p.m. On June 16 he picked up his last customer of the day, and as his shift neared its end, his wife had not heard from him. She called and texted him but received no answer. Piedra's family "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) nonemergency number and then 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." Community comes together to support family, remember Piedra. Since the shooting, the El Paso community has come together to help Piedra's family and honor his life, which was cut way too short, Lopez said. "We want justice," Lopez said. "It wasn't fair that that's how the situation played out. I wish she (Copas) 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. We just want justice for him. That's all we're asking." A vigil for Piedra was held Friday at a local park, and his family welcomed the community to celebrate Piedra's life and memory. "We basically just wanted to open it up to the community because his funeral will be private," Lopez said. "We have seen how much people are backing us up online and all the people who have donated. And so we kind of wanted a chance to give the community a moment to just kind of grieve with us and see their support in real life." A GoFundMe page was created to help the family pay for hospital and funeral expenses. Contributing: The Associated Press. Aaron Martinez may be reached at amartinez1@elpasotimes.com or on Twitter  @AMartinezEPT . This article originally appeared on USA TODAY NETWORK: Uber driver fatally shot by woman who thought she was being kidnapped.