Detroit cab drivers concerned for own safety after recent shootings, killings

Several cab drivers shot, killed in recent years in Detroit; drivers make plea for safety

By Sandra Ali - Anchor/Reporter

DETROIT - The killing of a Detroit cab driver Thursday morning is part of a startling trend in the city.

Cab drivers have had a difficult time staying safe in the city of Detroit over the past couple of years.

In March 2011 a cab driver was shot on the city's east side. Another driver was shot the following month on the west side. Just this past September a driver was shot and killed while stopped at an ATM on the city's west side.

Read more: Family mourns slain Detroit cab driver; passenger injured

On Oct. 16, another driver was shot and killed while parked at a mobile gas station on Detroit's east side. Then, just a few days later, a 58-year-old driver was shot on the city's west side.

"It's tough. You know, we don't carry no more than about $50, if that," said Jerry Bell, a driver who was shot by his passenger.

Bell still has the scars on his stomach. It's a painful reminder of what happened to him two years ago. He was shot in the leg and face by a passenger he had picked up in Detroit. Bell had to run his cab into a tree to defend himself.

"Why would someone want to kill a taxi driver? We don't carry no more than $50 on us," he said.

Nabil Faraj, owner of Metropolitan Cab Company, has been in the business for 30 years. On Thursday, after losing Tyrone Hitchcock, one of his faithful employees, Faraj went to Mayor Dave Bing asking for help and protection for his drivers.

"It's not safe at all. First of all, if we call for help, it takes a while," he said.

Faraj says many of his drivers are harassed almost every day. One of his drivers was beaten up just last week during a shift.

Faraj says he always tells his drivers to take extra precautions.

"If someone runs away with the money, let him go. It's not a big deal," he said.

Bell said he would like to see the city help protect drivers.

"The cab drivers, the owners and the city of Detroit must come up with something to protect us while we're out here on the roads," Bell said.

The man who shot Bell is serving 30 years in prison.

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