Dealership association aware of dangers salesmen face

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Area car dealerships on alert after a salesman made a dramatic escape after being kidnapped and tossed in a trunk.

Houston-area car dealerships are on alert after a salesman made a dramatic escape from kidnappers while out on a test drive.

Jose Martinez, 22, is talking about the terrifying experience. He is bruised, bloodied and nursing a broken nose.

"It's crazy. It's crazy as hell," said Martinez, not even 24 hours after the attack.

Martinez took a beating, was kidnapped and stuffed in a trunk of the Dodge Challenger he was trying to sell. It was a test drive that could have turned deadly.

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"My main concern was he was alive," his mother, Melissa Martinez, told Eyewitness News.

It was breaking news Monday night. The Gillman Chrysler Dodge car salesman who left with a customer around 6pm but didn't come back as planned.

At car dealerships across the city Tuesday, it was a wake-up call.

"I can tell you this, the friends I have in the car business are definitely talking about it and our team sent out an email to everybody letting them know what happened and precautions we need to take for the future for this not to happen," explained Tommy Kuranoff, General Manager for Momentum BMW on the Southwest Freeway.

Martinez's story is remarkable. He says another car with two men inside turned out to be following the Dodge. The man with him sucker-punched him. He was then forced into the trunk and started plotting his escape.

"Just trying to figure out what the smartest thing to do was," Martinez said in labored speech because of the pain. "I put my tracker on my iPhone to track my iPhone."

After calling for help, Martinez enabled the "Find my iPhone" application and then pulled the emergency latch in the trunk to escape. He says he fought with the men, wrestled away a gun and shot one of them.

"Yeah, I shot him pretty good. Good shot," he said.

The suspects left Martinez behind and took off in the Dodge with the smart phone still in the car. The app helped police track the kidnappers to the west side. They got away. The car was recovered on S. Dairy Ashford near Westheimer.

Others in the industry are applauding Martinez while considering their own safety. No one has been arrested.

"It hit home for us and it's going to make us more aware of our surroundings," added Kuranoff.

The Houston Automobile Dealers Association tells Eyewitness News it is also warning its members and offering its services and assistance to the Gillman dealership.

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