Reporting Jamie Yuccas
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Police in North Minneapolis are working leads after a taxi driver was shot and killed Wednesday, but no arrests have been made.
The shooting happened just after 10 p.m. near the 400 block of 23rd Avenue. The taxi involved was owned by Yellow Cab, and the driver, 56-year-old William Harper, of Roseville, had just returned to work for the company.
The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office said Harper died of a gunshot wound to the back about a half hour after being shot.
The shooting and subsequent death have put the local taxi cab community on high alert. Driver Ismail Wako says he’s really scared.
“There’s no way we can protect ourselves when we drive, we just — you know — hope for the best,” he said.
Wako has been driving for about a month, but he already wants to quit. He has a security camera in his car, but doesn’t think it’s enough to protect him.
“I had a customer that ran away with my money, once like a week ago,” he said. “Sometimes it happens, but you just have to live with it.”
Yellow cab is part of Taxi Services, Inc., which is the largest cab company in the Twin Cities with more than 400 cars.
Steve Pint, the president of Taxi Services, gave a statement Thursday that said: “We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of our driver’s last night, and are currently working with investigators.”
Police are trying to ease the public’s fears.
“We are going to be increasing our patrols in the area to specifically address a spike in violence we’ve seen the last couple of weeks,” said Inspector Mike Martin, commander of the 4th Minneapolis Precinct.
But drivers are planning to steer clear of North Minneapolis. Wako says even if he gets orders pick up someone North Minneapolis, he won’t go.
Yellow cab says its vehicles have a driver alarm button that initiates GPS to give the location of a taxi in emergency situations.
Police say they do receive calls about disputes over fares, but it’s been about three years since a cab driver was killed while on the job.