Cabbies aid one of their own

February 22, 1994|By Melody Simmons | Melody Simmons,Sun Staff Writer

Drivers for a city-cab company were collecting money today to help fellow-driver Harry Lewis, whom police accuse of hunting down and shooting a teen-ager he said robbed him early Monday in West Baltimore.

Harry Lewis, whose boss at Royal Cab Co. described him as "a soft-spoken, hard-worker," was being held in the City Jail on $30,000 bail on a charge of assault with intent to murder.

He was awaiting a bail review today in Baltimore District Court. How much money was taken was not disclosed.

The victim, Ian Berry, 16, of the 2400 block of Roslyn Ave., in the Walbrook area, was listed in serious but stable condition today at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center with a gunshot wound in his back. Authorities said he was hit in the spine.

He will be charged with armed robbery when he is discharged from the hospital, city police spokesman Sam Ringgold said.

Dwight Kines, Royal Cab's general manager, said this morning the company supports Mr. Lewis and has assigned its attorney, Gilbert Rosenthal, to represent the cabbie.

"He's not a cowboy -- he was not out to show off," Mr. Kines said of the driver, who has worked for Royal for five years. "He's a sensible guy. I've known this guy for a long time. He did what a lot of people would love to do, but that's another story."

Police said Mr. Lewis was robbed by a teen-aged male passenger armed with a 9mm pistol at 1:35 a.m. Monday in the 2100 block of Garrison Blvd. Mr. Lewis had picked up Mr. Berry in his cab.

After the robbery, the teen left the cab, police said. Mr. Lewis drove around the block searching for his assailant, they said. When he saw the teen-ager, police said, Mr. Lewis shot him from the driver's seat.

This morning, Mr. Lewis received support from his fellow cabbies at Royal Cab's headquarters on West Lexington Street in West Baltimore.

A plain envelope was being passed around the office and fellow cabbies and dispatchers were stuffing it with cash to help pay for Mr. Lewis' defense.

"I support him," said Margie Gee, who has been driving a cab for Royal for five years. "Everybody seems to be for him because a lot of cab drivers get held up."

Cabbie Gail Weinblatt, 47, who police records show was robbed at gunpoint of $100 and her cab on Feb. 7 in the 4500 block of Hayward Ave, also supports Mr. Lewis.

"I am afraid -- a man just put a gun in the back of my head," she said. "When you are robbed and shown a gun, it is a life-threatening situation and adrenaline goes to your brain. There is no logic. You just want to go back and kill the guy who threatened you.

"When they take our money, they are risking our homes and taking food off of our tables. Let them go out and get their own jobs."

Royal Cab sends 370 cabs onto Baltimore's streets each day -- one-third of the city's 1,100-cab fleet. About 500 drivers work for the company, some of whom own their own cabs, Mr. Kines said.

In 1992, there were under 30 robberies of Royal Cabs, Mr. Kines said. Crime figures for 1993 were not available, he said.

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