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Ex-Uber driver arrested in connection with woman's murder

Victoria Braddock, 28, shot, pushed out of SUV, police say

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A former Uber driver was arrested last week in connection with the death of a woman who police said was shot and pushed out of a moving vehicle in a Southside Estates neighborhood, according to Duval County court records.

Charles Rowlands, 29, is charged with evidence tampering in connection with the murder of 28-year-old Victoria Braddock.

Braddock died May 15 at UF Health Jacksonville, shortly after she was shot and found about 3 p.m. on Cortez Road at Brookview Drive South.

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Witnesses told detectives that they saw Braddock get pushed out of a SUV that was going north on Cortez Road. 

"Dramatic. It was a very gory scene that happened. A lot of people were out," Clara Hannon, who lives on the street, recounted.

Surveillance video from a home on Cortez Road showed the SUV to be a black Chevy Trailblazer. 

Rowlands had a black Chevy Trailblazer registered to him, and on April 25, Braddock was seen with Rowlands in that SUV, police said. That’s when Rowlands was arrested in Atlantic Beach on charges of cocaine possession and carrying a concealed firearm. 

The two were seen in the same SUV on May 7, according to Rowlands' arrest report.

On May 16, after the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office called Rowlands to ask for a ride in his capacity as an Uber driver, he told the officer he was no long working for Uber, the report said.

On May 25, Rowlands sold the SUV. 

According to the arrest report, JSO found and processed the SUV, and even though there had been an attempt to eliminate blood evidence, trace amounts were found, including in areas of the vehicle not accessible to the occupants.

News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said the blood may have been cleaned from the seats., but could have dripped places under the seat that aren't normally visible. 

Rowlands was booked May 25 into the Duval County Jail on $100,000 bond. His arrest has been the only one made in the case so far.

Since Braddock's death, a memorial for her has been growing on Cortez Road. Hannon told News4Jax on Friday that Braddock's family comes by often to make sure it looks nice. 

"I have met the mother and her sister and her daughter since this happened. We've talked and they're a very loving family, very close-knit," Hannon said. 

Hannon said she was relieved to learn of the arrest in the case, and hopes it's a step toward justice for Braddock's family.

"I'm glad you're getting closure and that you're getting answers," she said. "I pray that everything will be all right for you."

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500 or email JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org. To remain anonymous and receive a possible reward of up to $3,000, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.