EL PASO, Texas – A West Texas woman accused of fatally shooting her Uber driver after she mistakenly believed he was smuggling her to Mexico has been charged with murder, authorities said.
Phoebe Cobas, 48, of Tompkinsville, Kentucky, was visiting her boyfriend in El Paso, Texas on June 16. The El Paso Police Department said the shooting happened on June 16. while he was driving her to a location in southeast El Paso.
According to a complaint affidavit, Copas saw traffic signs during his ride that read “Juarez, Mexico” and mistakenly believed he had been kidnapped and taken to Mexico. El Paso is located on the US-Mexico border across from Juarez.
El Paso police officers initially arrested and booked Cobas on suspicion of assault causing serious bodily injury in connection with the shooting. Copas was booked into the El Paso County Jail and was being held on Sunday.
With Pietra’s death, the charge has been upgraded to murder, El Paso Police Department officials said. Cobas’ bond is now set at $1.5 million.
The suspect said that the reason for the shooting was the fear of being kidnapped
The affidavit states that Pietra picked up Cobas in a gray Nissan Maxima around 2 p.m. and drove her to another location to meet her boyfriend.
As they headed south on US 54 in south-central El Paso, Copas saw traffic signs displaying the words “Juarez, Mexico.” That led her to believe Pietra was trying to kidnap her and take her across the border, the affidavit said.
Gobas is accused of grabbing a silver and brown handgun from her purse and shooting Pietra in the back right side of her head. As a result, the vehicle collided with the road barriers before stopping on the highway and crashed.
The area where the car crashed “is not in close proximity to a bridge, port of entry or other area with immediate access to travel into Mexico,” the affidavit states.
It further states, “The route traveled on the road (copass) is a normal route for driving to the desired destination.”
Before calling 911, Copas took a photo of Pietra after she was shot and texted it to her boyfriend, police allege. Officers arrived at the scene around 2:20 p.m. and found Kobas being helped out of the car by her boyfriend.
Cobas then dropped everything she had in her hands, including a brown and silver handgun, to the floor, the affidavit states. Officers found Pietra slumped in the driver’s seat of the car, shot in the head.
Officers investigating the shooting arrested Kobas. Pietra was taken to El Paso University Medical Center for treatment.
Pietra was declared brain dead at the hospital
Pietra was hospitalized for several days before her family took her off life support after doctors said she would not recover. The decision to take her off life support devastated the family, said Didi Lopez, Pietra’s niece.
“His condition will not change if we don’t cut him off,” Lopez said. “Basically it’s going to be in a vegetative state. We don’t want to see him suffer. We don’t want him to live his life like that.
“Of course, we wanted him to get up and get on with his life, but we didn’t make the decision. The second those bullets went into his head it was decided for us and for him. .”
All Pietra wanted to do was help her family and be there when they needed her the most.
“He’s a hard worker and a lot of fun,” Lopez said. “He was never in a bad mood, and if he saw you in a bad mood, he would always come and try to lift you up, always making us laugh. Such a funny, caring and hardworking person. .”
Three weeks ago, Pietra, the sole breadwinner of her family, started working as an Uber driver. He started his work by picking up passengers at 7 in the morning and finished at 2 in the afternoon
On June 16, he took his last customer of the day and when his work was done, his wife did not hear from him.
She called and texted him but got no reply. And his family never heard from him again.
“They (Pietra’s family) started calling all the hospitals to see if he was there. Then someone mentioned an article about an Uber driver being shot. They (El Paso Police Department) called 911. That’s when they said it was him. So we had to go to the hospital. . . and that’s how we found out.”
The community comes together to support the family, remember Pietra
Since the shooting, the El Paso community has come together to help Pietra’s family and honor her life, which was cut too short, Lopez said.
“We want justice,” Lopez said. “That’s what the situation was. Her life, too. He wants justice. That’s what we’re asking for.”
A vigil for Pietra was held at a local park on Friday, and her family welcomed the community to celebrate Pietra’s life and memory.
“Since his funeral will be private, we wanted to open it up to the community,” Lopez said. “We’ve seen how much support we’ve had with all the people who’ve donated, online. So we wanted an opportunity for the community to grieve with us and see their support in real life.”
A GoFundMe page Created to help the family pay for hospital and funeral expenses.
Contributed by: Associated Press