Deputies: Uber driver accused of kicking down door, entering LSU student’s off-campus apartment

Deputies: Uber driver accused of kicking down door, entering LSU student’s off-campus apartment
Jose Cruz Fernandez (Source: East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - An Uber driver has been arrested for allegedly kicking down the door of an LSU student’s off-campus apartment and entering the home only to be scared off by the presence of the student’s roommate, according to arrest records.

According to arrest records obtained by WAFB, Jose Cruz Fernandez, 48, of St. Gabriel, was arrested on Wednesday, April 14 on the charge of unauthorized entry of an inhabited dwelling.

Deputies say Fernandez, while working as an Uber drive, picked up a passenger, who is an LSU student, and began driving them to their off-campus apartment in the 400 block of Ben Hur Road around 2 a.m. on April 7.

Deputies: Rideshare driver accused of kicking down door, entering passenger’s apartment near LSU campus

When Fernandez dropped the passenger off at their apartment, they told deputies they noticed Fernandez was still in his vehicle in the parking lot as they walked to their apartment, according to the arrest record.

After about 10 to 15 minutes after the passenger entered their apartment, they heard a loud banging at the door. Deputies say the passenger looked through the peephole of the front door and noticed it was Fernandez.

Jose Cruz Fernandez
Jose Cruz Fernandez (Source: East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office)

According to arrest records, the passenger began yelling through the door telling Fernandez that he needed to leave. Deputies say Fernandez refused to leave after several minutes of the passenger asking him to leave.

The victim told deputies Fernandez then kicked the door down and entered the apartment, according to the arrest report.

Deputies say once Fernandez entered the apartment he noticed that the passenger’s roommate was also home and immediately exited the apartment.

Fernandez was booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on Wednesday.

Investigators say they were able to verify Fernandez did work as an Uber driver through the company.

LSU police are still asking students and community members to report any suspicious behavior by rideshare drivers or other individuals to LSU Police at 225-578-3231.

“Remember to always report suspicious activity, if you see something, say something,” LSU officials say.

“It’s scary being a 19-year-old girl myself, I definitely know the dangers of taking rides with strangers, that’s why I never plan to use Uber myself. I’d rather call in a friend or relative if I need a ride,” Simone Mixon, who is a student at LSU, tells WAFB.

However, sometimes getting a friend to come pick everyone up doesn’t always work out, that’s why rideshares are convenient. Riders tell WAFB they take matters into their own hands to ensure their safety.

“When I go in an Uber, there’s usually at least three people with me at all times, I mean there is no way we are going by ourselves in an Uber,” says LSU student Annalynn Ferr.

“I know that every single time that I’m in an Uber, I always make sure that my phone or at least one of our phones is fully charged. I know like I been in an Uber where I felt uncomfortable, and when I am with somebody I am able to like contact them if they are feeling the same way,” another LSU student, Angelle McCormick, adds.

Rideshares do have their own safety measures, like Uber, if someone feels uncomfortable during a ride they can use the 911 assistance and the authorities will immediately be notified.

“So, I think that it’s really important that all girls have like an effective way of form of communication when they are in an Uber, and also like Annalynn said you should never be by yourself cause you just never know if somebody is really safe who is driving you,” McCormick adds.

Uber and Lyft do have a partnership where they share the names of drivers deactivated for the most serious safety incidents, like sexual assault or physical assaults.

Uber issued a statement to WAFB:

“The reported details and behavior of the driver are alarming and he has been deactivated from the Uber platform. We are working with law enforcement on their investigation,” an Uber spokesperson said.

The company says every Uber trip is tracked using GPS technology and there is an emergency button in the app that allows both riders and drivers to call or text 911 directly in case of an emergency.

Uber also says every U.S. driver for the company undergoes an annual Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) review and a thorough criminal history background check before their first trip.

LSU tweeted Tuesday, April 13 police were investigating reports of a rideshare driver displaying ‘concerning behavior.’

In their tweet, LSU also states that there many rumors circulating about a rideshare driver being shared on social media involving missing or abducted students. Officials say while those are not accurate, know that authorities are currently working to investigate the case based on ‘suspicious behaviors demonstrated.’

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