Slain cabdriver refused to quit dangerous 4 p.m.-4 a.m. shift

September 26, 1990

Shirley I. Lewis said that every time she tried to persuade her taxi-driver husband, James, that it was too dangerous to continue working the 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. shift, he refused to change his hours.

"He said that was all he ever worked and that his body had adjusted to those hours," said Mrs. Lewis. "That's what he really liked to do. If someone didn't sometimes have the fare that didn't bother him."

Yesterday, Baltimore police were looking for the two men they believe shot the 66-year-old Mr. Lewis to death at the steering wheel of his Diamond cab in the 400 block of Swale Road in Cherry Hill. The police believe that Mr. Lewis, who had driven a cab for 22 years without once being held up, was the victim of a robbery.

Investigators said Mr. Lewis had been shot several times in the upper torso. Two men, one wearing a red leather coat and the other a brown leather coat, were seen fleeing from the area.

"That's what no one can understand," Mrs. Lewis said. "We never knew him to take a fare in Cherry Hill. That is a bad area."

The incident occurred less than two hours after Mr. Lewis left his home in the 3800 block of Clifton Avenue in West Baltimore Monday evening after stopping by for the second of his daily doses of insulin. He was a diabetic who was also preparing for a heart bypass operation, Mrs. Lewis said.

While at his home, Mr. Lewis had something to eat, and he and Mrs. Lewis, 57, played cards.

About 8 p.m., he left. Two hours later, the police called Mrs. Lewis to say that her husband had been found dead. The couple had been married 36 years and had a son and two daughters.

Mr. Lewis was the third Baltimore cabdriver to be murdered on the job this year. But cabdrivers waiting for fares at Penn Station yesterday said they can't let that stop them from making a living. "We've just got to take more chances to make money these days," said one driver, who asked not to be identified.

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