At some point — while the two passengers bickered and the husband repeatedly cursed at his wife — the driver heard a boom. The sound was so loud, the driver told police, that he assumed his tire had exploded. However, when he saw Jennifer Espitia’s body slumped forward, lying motionless in her seat, it became clear that a gunshot had been fired inside the car and his life was in danger, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported.
Attempting to keep the situation calm, the driver asked Espitia where he wanted to go, the paper reported. Espitia told the driver to “just drive” before eventually instructing the driver to drop him off northwest of downtown Seattle, the Times reported. Once Espitia got out of the Uber, the driver called police. Espitia was arrested around 2 a.m., six blocks away from where he exited the vehicle. Police say they found him with a semiautomatic pistol in an ankle holster.
“When asked how he was, Cameron said he was not having a good night with his wife,” the Times reported, citing court documents.
Espitia told police he was drunk when the incident happened and remembered almost nothing between the time he and his wife were searching for a ride to the moment he woke up lying in some bushes, according to NBC affiliate KING-TV, which cited court documents. Espitia did acknowledge remembering riding inside a white SUV that resembled the Uber in which the shooting took place, the station reported.
During a Monday court appearance, a judge set Espitia’s bail at $3 million, according to the Times. He is being held on probable cause of one count of second-degree murder and is expected to appear in court again on July 6.
Espitia worked for the U.S. Coast Guard, according to court records cited by the Times.
At the hearing, Coast Guardsman Elliot Felix told the presiding judge that he didn’t think Espitia — whom he had known for five years — was capable of killing his wife. “I would not in a million years think he would do something like this,” Felix said, according to the Times.
Jennifer Espitia, a Washington state native, graduated from Mercer Island High School in the Seattle suburb before attending Saint Mary’s College in California, where she was a member of the school’s rowing team, according to a college-athletics biography.
Her rowing bio noted that she earned a community service award for her work as a peer educator at Planned Parenthood, as a day care attendee and for helping to build homes in Mexico.
For the Uber driver, the night was a harrowing experience, but he came away unharmed.
“We’ve been in contact with the driver and are so grateful he is okay,” a company spokeswoman told The Washington Post.
Uber prohibits riders from carrying firearms in their vehicles while using their app. But Uber drivers have been the victims of violence on numerous occasions.
Police accuse 16-year-old Eliza Wasni of stabbing 24-year-old Grant Nelson from the back seat of his silver Hyundai Sonata. Nelson managed to pull the car into a nearby condominium building driveway before running to the lobby entrance, where he banged on the door and screamed.
“Help me,” Nelson shouted. “Help me, I’m going to die.”
He was able to describe his attacker to police but later died in a hospital.
Police say Wasni attempted to steal Nelson’s car but was eventually caught on foot “in a bra and leggings; a Cubs shirt that she is seen wearing in Walmart security footage was found nearby with bloodstains, officials said,” according to the Chicago Tribune.
Wasni been charged as an adult with first-degree murder and is being held in a juvenile facility, the Tribune reported.
Uber says it does provide training to drivers on how to deal with “difficult” passengers.