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Cabbie shot in the face home, doing ‘OK’

Police are still searching for a man who, posing as a customer, shot a Corona livery cab driver in the face, stealing his cell phone, wallet and approximately $600 before fleeing the scene, according to police.
A spokesperson for Elmhurst Hospital Center said 37-year-old Jose Santacruz, who, for a few months has moonlighted as a driver for Tulcingo Car Service in Corona, is “stable and he was discharged on Saturday, August 23.”
Santacruz, a father of four according to published reports, picked up a fare called in by a pay phone around 1 a.m. on Friday, August 22, at 99-10 Astoria Boulevard. He dropped off the “customer,” a black male in his 20s, a few blocks away at 25-04 Curtis Street, a police source said.
Santacruz fought back after his armed passenger demanded cash. The assailant then fired one round into Santacruz’s right cheek and disappeared from the scene. Santacruz continued to drive while radioing for help and was ultimately pulled over by police at the intersection of Northern and Junction Boulevards for driving on the wrong side of the road, the cop source said. Santacruz was promptly transported to Elmhurst Hospital Center.
“He’s OK now. I think he’s home already,” said Nelson Espinoza, a dispatcher and occasional driver for Tulcingo. Espinoza admitted he and fellow employees are on edge after the incident “because you never know what’s going to happen.” But he allowed that fretting over the uncontrollable does nobody any good.
“A lot of things happen every day in New York City - but we’re OK,” he said.
Across the river at South Street Seaport’s Harbour Lights Restaurant, Private Events Manager Anne Marie Delaney and other employees were shaken by the news about Santacruz, a restaurant cook by day.
“He has worked for us for a while and we’re all in shock about what happened,” said Delaney, whose father Austin owns the restaurant. “I know that he is not going to come back to work just yet but he is doing much better. I believe he’s at home and wants to come back as soon as he’s physically able.”
Delaney, who called Santacruz very experienced and “a great part of our team here,” said she and others at the restaurant had no idea about his second job.
“Here’s a guy trying to earn an income and working two jobs and something just tragic like this happens,” she said in disbelief.
Despite the tragedy, however, Espinoza said he and fellow cab drivers must continue to work. Espinoza does not fear the night shift nor does he want to adjust his schedule. “You never know when it’s going to happen. But if it happens, it happens,” he said.
An NYPD spokesperson said he was not aware of any similar incidents in the Corona and East Elmhurst areas recently.
- With reporting by Ursula Gonzales

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