Cab driver recovering after throat cut in robbery

By • on March 2, 2011

Detectives say suspects may have been involved in other taxi robberies last month.

March 1, 2011

By Isadora Vail
Austin American-Statesman

Escobar said that what happened next was much worse — the men tried to rob him and his throat was sliced from his Adam’s apple to near his right ear.

Police are looking for the two men who attacked Escobar and think they may be involved in similar robberies.

Escobar said he became suspicious when he picked up the men downtown about 3 a.m. and they told him to drive to the Riverside/Montopolis Drive area, rather than a specific address. He said they began talking about their night and having to work the next day.

"I don’t know if they were making it up, but they were talking about their lives," he said. "They never told me where they were going."

As Escobar approached Montopolis Drive , the men told him to continue to Yellow Jacket Lane and then ordered him to turn around at the end of the street. As soon as he did, he said, one man grabbed him from behind his seat, and the other began yelling at him for money. At one point, one of the men hit him in the back of his head.

"I didn’t see a weapon at the time, so I grabbed the microphone and asked dispatch to call police because I was being robbed," Escobar said. "If I had seen a knife or anything, I would have never done that."

The men fled on foot when they realized that the Austin Cab company dispatch had heard Escobar’s plea for help and that police had been called. Escobar said he didn’t notice his neck had been cut until police arrived. He was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge, where the laceration was closed with about 15 stitches, he said.

Police said the men fit the description of two other taxi cab robberies in the area on Feb. 13 and 17. In each case, one weapon — either a gun or knife — was shown to threaten the cab driver, Austin robbery Detective Derek Israel said. The cab drivers were not injured.

"Clearly, the crimes are escalating, and the latest victim had a pretty serious wound," Israel said. "We are very concerned about the suspects using weapons and becoming more violent."

Israel said both men are Hispanic. One is about 18 years old and 5 feet 7 inches tall with very short black hair and clean shaven. He was last seen wearing a dark, hooded sweatshirt. Police released a composite sketch of the man Tuesday. There was no detailed description of the other man.

Police said a third person was involved in the Feb. 17 robbery but did not release a description.

Police are asking any witnesses to call the robbery tip line at 974-5092 or Crime Stoppers at 472-8477.

Escobar, who has driven cabs for about two years, said he did not know when he would return to work and is recovering at home.

His 25-year-old son continues to drive a taxi cab part time.

"I just feel very lucky to be alive," he said. "All I keep thinking is, ‘Thank God.’"

ivail(at)statesman.com; 445-3763

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