Police: Tow truck driver shot in dispute at crash scene

July 19, 2010 3:15:52 PM PDT
A tow truck driver was shot in a dispute following a crash Monday morning then drove himself to a Philadelphia police station.

The shooting happened around 10:00 a.m. at the scene of a minor crash at Whitaker and Hunting Park avenues.

Jose LaTorre, Jr., apparently arrived at the scene first, driving a black Cadillac Escalade. He's also the son of the owner of J & Son's Towing.

At one point a tow truck from Mystical Towing, driven by Anabel Carrera, also arrived and an argument ensued.

"The guy in the Escalade sees the guy in the tow truck, tells the guy to move his truck because he blocked him in with the tow truck," said witness Jack Roth.

The shooting happened after that argument, Roth said, and LaTorre took off.

Carrera drove himself to the 24th police district at 3901 Whitaker Avenue, about a half-mile from the scene. He was taken to Temple University Hospital for surgery.

Witnesses say LaTorre, Jr., who goes by the nickname "Yogi," returned to the scene while police were there, but took off again. Police continue to search for him.

The suspicion was that LaTorre, Jr. was there on business for J&Son's towing, and may have been trying to protect the scene until one of their drivers could arrive. But the owner of J& Son's, Jose LaTorre, Sr., says that's not true and his son is self-employed.

When asked why his son was there, Jose LaTorre said "Well, this is a public highway." When asked to clarify why his son happened to be at an accident scene, Jose LaTorre said "Everyone was there." His brother says Jose LaTorre, Jr. is a recruiter for personal injury lawyers.

Then, when asked why his son would shoot somebody, Jose LaTorre said "You have to ask him that." He also added his son probably shot Carrera in self-defense.

"They shouldn't be pulling gun on people and nobody does anything. Mystical, that's all they do all day long, repossessing cars from people, chasing them around with guns. Cops don't do nothing," LaTorre said.

Other drivers say it's the drivers from J&Son's that try to menace rivals.

One driver, who did not want to be identified, said this is a cut-throat business.

"They try to scare people off accidents," the driver said. When asked how, he said "With guns and intimidation."

AAA is urging the city and the police to start enforcing the tow operator rotation system that was passed into law three years ago. That law was designed to prevent "wreck-chasing" and the potential for violence.