A Gainesville taxi company was reeling Tuesday as it dealt with the shooting death of one its veteran drivers.
“We’ve had some robberies and things like that, but since we’ve been working here, this is the first time something like this has happened,” said Mateo Rebollar, whose father owns Taxi El Palmar at 1916 Atlanta Highway.
“We’re still shocked,” he said. “We can’t believe it.”
Isaias Tovar-Murillo, 46, was identified Tuesday as the Gainesville taxi driver whose body was found early Monday in a woods near Barrett and Dorsey Peek roads.
Four people also have been charged in his death. All are being held at the Hall County Jail with no bond, and their first appearance hearing is set for 2 p.m. today in Hall Magistrate Court.
Misty Moran, 39, of Gainesville is charged with conspiracy to commit armed robbery, felony murder, malice murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.
Also charged are Margarita Leanos, 28, of Gainesville; Nicholas Gonzalez, 24, of Gainesville; and Justin Adams, 22, of Gainesville. Each is charged with conspiracy to commit armed robbery and felony murder.
Hall County Sheriff’s Office officials say Moran shot Tovar-Murillo during an attempted armed robbery and that the other three suspects followed the taxi and picked Moran up after the slaying.
“We know that this was a planned robbery,” sheriff’s spokeswoman Nicole Bailes said. “She might have been a fare for the driver, (but) her intent was to rob the taxi driver.”
Authorities don’t know if the driver knew the suspects, she added.
The investigation started after authorities got a call at 4:50 a.m. Monday about a suspicious vehicle.
When deputies arrived, they found the white taxi, which appeared to have left the roadway and traveled through the woods before stopping behind a house, officials said.
Investigators later followed up anonymous tips, leading to the arrests.
Rebollar said he didn’t know anything about the four suspects.
“I’m not sure if it was a customer (situation) or he picked them up on the street,” he said, explaining that most of the company’s drivers are independent contractors who charge their own rates.
“He had been working night shift for a couple of years, getting off at 9,” Rebollar said. “The last call he was dispatched to was around 9:30 (Sunday night) and that was the last time we heard from him.”
Tovar-Murillo, who had worked for the company about 15 years, had a brother living in Gainesville. His parents died several years ago in his native Mexico, Rebollar said.
“He was a good worker,” he said. “He was always on time.”