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Young Father, Tow Truck Driver Killed On The Job After Argument With Customer

RIVERSIDE (CBSLA) — A young father and tow truck driver was shot and killed on the job Monday afternoon by a customer who had called for him to come tow his car, authorities said.

Riverside police say sometime before 1:10 p.m. the owner of a truck called Liberty Towing to have the vehicle towed from the 3700 block of Bandini and Magnolia avenues. Investigators say an argument ensued, the encounter turned physical, and the suspect shot the tow truck driver multiple times.

Javier Martinez
Javier Martinez has been arrested on murder charges in the shooting death of a tow truck driver during a dispute on Oct. 8, 2019, in Riverside, Calif.

The 27-year-old victim, whose name was not released, died at the scene.

Police say the shooter ran a half-mile up the road and started to toss evidence in the neighborhood. Investigators arrested him within minutes but the search for clues continued into the night.

Due to the suspect fleeing on foot and being in the proximity of two schools, lockdowns were put in place at the schools until the suspect was safely taken into custody a short time later.

The suspect, later identified as 32-year-old Javier Martinez of Landers, was booked on murder charges.

Fran Thomas told CBSLA's Nicole Comstock she heard seven to nine shots. She said her neighbor, who happens to be a nurse, found someone bleeding in the middle of the road and attempted to render aid.

"She ran down to see if she could render any help which, I guess it was too late already," the woman said.

On Monday night, Liberty Towing employees accompanied heartbroken family members to the spot when the victim was killed. Volunteers used flashlights and metal detectors, looking for the gun.

Liberty Towing said a dispatcher was on the phone with the driver the whole time and that the victim was towing the vehicle for repair when the shooter climbed onto the back of the tow truck to get his belongings, which is against policy. They say he was intoxicated.

Riverside police say they were looking into those details.

An investigation was ongoing as of Tuesday and there are no further details were immediately released.

Martinez was being held without bail.

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