Man accused of holding up cab drivers in Iowa City, Coralville

Suspect allegedly stole two taxi cabs in one night

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A 21-year-old Iowa City man has been arrested on suspicion of holding up a Yellow Cab driver at gunpoint and stealing his taxi in Coralville, according to police.

He also faces charges in Iowa City after police say he called Marcos Taxi for a ride from 2401 Highway 6 E. #4208 and threatened the driver with a handgun, saying he would “blow him away,” according to a criminal complaint.

Bruce Steve Austin, 21, who has addresses in both Iowa City and Chicago, entered the cab in Iowa City at 11:41 p.m. Tuesday and told the driver to go to Market Street, according to the complaint. Once at the location, the driver gave Austin the total, and Austin pulled out a handgun, held it to the driver’s face and demanded money and his phone or he would “blow him away,” police reported.

The driver handed over his money and phone and exited the cab when Austin told him to get out, according to the complaint. Austin left in the cab, and the driver was able to positively identify him and the gun later.

Police determined the gun had been loaded with ammunition, according to the complaint, but no one was injured in that incident. The Marcos Taxi cab was later found in a parking lot on Heinz Road in Iowa City, according to Iowa City police.

A couple hours later, at 1:21 a.m. Wednesday, Coralville officers were called to the area of 23rd Avenue near the Coral Ridge Mall on a report that a Yellow Cab driver had been robbed at gunpoint. The suspect took the cab in the process, according to police, and officers were able to locate the vehicle a short time later as it headed south on 23rd Avenue.

When officers tried to stop the cab, the driver refused and went west on 2nd Street, according to police. Stop sticks were deployed at the intersection, deflating the cab’s tires. But the driver managed to continue on into the Lowe’s parking lot, where he turned around and headed toward the officers’ squad cars, according to a Coralville police news release.

The cab collided with one of the officer’s squad cars in the Lowe’s parking lot, and the driver was immediately arrested. He was identified as Austin, and a loaded 9 mm handgun was found in his front waistband.

Police recovered evidence from the cab as well, according to police.

Both the squad car and the Yellow Cab received minor damage in the collision valued at more than $1,000. No one was injured.

Austin faces charges out of Coralville of first-degree robbery, a felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison, second-degree theft of a motor vehicle, and eluding law enforcement.

Iowa City police arrested him on suspicion of first-degree robbery and operating a vehicle without consent.

Austin had a warrant out for his arrest in Cedar County for a probation revocation related to a previous motor vehicle theft, according to Coralville police.

He is being held in the Johnson County Jail in lieu of a $213,500 cash-only bond.

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