Pizza delivery man pistol-whipped, carjacked at gunpoint

(Tim Garcia, WPRI-TV)
(Tim Garcia, WPRI-TV)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Two men attacked a pizza delivery driver Thursday night, hitting him in the face with a handgun and stealing his valuables and then his car, Providence Police said. A chase ensued and the two suspects remain on the loose.

The 49-year-old delivery driver for Tomato City Pizza, Reyes Galindo, told Eyewitness News food was ordered for a Hendrick Street address around 10 p.m. He was directed to meet the customers behind the home. He says when he asked for payment, one of the men demanded money from him instead, and pulled out the gun.

Both men hit him, including one with the gun, Galindo said. “He told me to stay on the ground, so I stayed on the ground,” he said. The men made for his car and took off with the Honda Civic, his cell phone, wallet and cash. Despite having delivered pizza all night, he only had $30 on him.

“I never like to carry a lot of money,” Galindo explained. He’s been a delivery driver for 15 years and always returns cash to the restaurant after three or four deliveries. “I never put money in my car.”

Galindo was able to flag down a police detective who was on patrol in the area and sounded the alarm.

Officers spotted the car a few minutes later and tried to stop the suspects. They ended up bailing out of the car a few blocks away at Winrooth Avenue and Pleasant Valley Parkway and running off. The officers tried to catch up to the suspects on foot, but they were able to get away.

Police said there was no visible damage to the car, and it was returned to Galindo, though the suspects threw away his Tomato City sign. Galindo said the suspects had put a bicycle and a number of their own belongings in the car, which he gave back to police.

Friday, Galindo says a person found his driver’s license and other cards from his wallet, apparently discarded by the thieves, and returned them to him.

“I got almost everything [back] except the phone,” Galindo said. “But the phone, you can replace the phone. The life–no.”

Providence Police Maj. David Lapatin said it’s not uncommon to see delivery drivers robbed, and he recommended drivers trust their instinct and refrain from going to the back of a building if it seems unsafe.

“If you’re looking at a house, and it looks like it might be suspicious, call them and ask them to come out to your car,” Lapatin said. “Instead of home delivery they can have curbside service.”

Galindo, who says he was robbed at knifepoint several years ago, also by a customer who asked him come around back, said he’s no longer going to deliver to back doors.

Police are searching for the suspects, who Galindo described to them as Hispanic, short and skinny. Police said the suspects apparently used a cell phone app to send a fake number to the restaurant’s caller ID.

In the end, Galindo suffered a swollen black eye but no other injuries. He was back at work Friday, prepping pizzas like he always does.

“I’m very lucky,” he said. “God blessed me.”