Taxi cab driver fatally shot during robbery in Newburgh

NEWBURGH, Orange County (WABC) -- A taxi driver was fatally shot in Newburgh in what police believe was a robbery, and separate rewards totaling $20,000 are being offered for information leading to an arrest.

It happened just after 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 30, on North Miller Street.

Officers responded to a report of shots fired and found 51-year-old Jorge Arbayza De La Cruz on the ground next to a cab, unconscious and unresponsive.

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He was rushed to a local hospital, where was pronounced deceased.

The investigation revealed that De La Cruz was working as a driver for Express Taxi when he was robbed by a group of men he had picked up on Liberty Street.

Police say they shot him a few blocks later and left him on the street.

It's since been four days of mourning for brother Mario Arbaiza and sister Juana Bendezú, as they seek justice and answers from the police.

For 10 years, De La Cruz worked long days and long nights serving the people of Newburgh as a taxi driver. His siblings know the demands of the job, because they are cabbies as well.

"I'm a taxi driver too," Arbaiza said. "My sister is a taxi driver. I know a lot of taxi drivers working hard. He was one person working hard for the community."

They can't understand why someone fatally shot their brother last week.

"My brother was working hard, nice guy," Arbaiza said. "He working 12, 15 hours every single day. He no doing nothing bad to nobody."

A growing memorial at the scene of the crime pays tribute to man who often sent money back home to a rehab center in Peru, and a GoFundMe page has been set up not only help the family during this time, but also to fund the purchase and installation of cameras inside cabs throughout Newburgh.


"I was here within minutes of this happening," Newburgh Police Chief Anthony Geraci said. "I was with those officers trying to revive him and trying to save his life. This bothers me, because he's a hard-working individual who comes to this country to make a better life."

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The ATF is offering a $5,000 reward, in addition to the $15,000 offered by the victim's siblings, who met with detectives Monday for an update on the investigation.

"They have videos," Bendezú said. "They have many people who've provided information, and they have two or three names, that we should wait and be patient."

Anyone who has information is urged to call detectives at 845-569-7509.

All calls will be kept confidential.

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