Gunman severely wounds cabbie

Taxi driver struggled with armed robber

is in critical condition

August 12, 1999|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

A Royal Cab driver was critically wounded yesterday afternoon when he was shot several times by an armed robber he struggled with outside an East Balti- more repair shop, police said.

Edward Omohimoria, 37, of Parkville, Baltimore County, was standing next to his cab, waiting to get a tire fixed about 12: 30 p.m. He was attacked by a gunman described by police as between ages 16 and 19.

Police said the driver, shot multiple times mostly in his upper body, was in critical condition last night at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The attacker fled, leaving his victim's jewelry scattered on the ground.

The shooting occurred in the 100 block of N. Duncan St., around the corner from Butler's Tire Service on Lamley Street, a narrow alleyway near Commodore John Rodgers Elementary School and three blocks south of Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Yesterday's incident was the first shooting of a city cab driver since January 1998, when Samuel Gathunguri-Waweru, 41, was killed in a robbery attempt in Northwest Baltimore. Three drivers were killed in a 30-day period the previous summer.

Despite those attacks, assaults on and robberies of cab drivers have decreased significantly since August 1996, when it became mandatory to install bulletproof shields between the front and back seats.

The city's 1,151 licensed taxis experienced a record 283 assaults and robberies in 1993, a number that dropped to 21 in 1998. The victims of the fatal shootings in 1997 included the driver of a Baltimore County cab that had no shield, and a city cab driver who had retracted his safety device.

Drivers using the shields properly reduce their risk of being crime victims, said Daniel Setzer, president of Royal Taxicab Association Inc.

He said half of last year's attacks involved drivers who were outside their vehicles, including one who was held up while walking behind the tow truck transporting his disabled cab.

Police said that the victim in yesterday's shooting also was standing outside his cab. Agent Angelique Cook-Hayes, a department spokeswoman, said the driver tried to fight off the attacker, and was shot several times during the struggle.

The driver's personal items, including jewelry, were recovered from the street, but police do not know whether the robber had any success. "We don't know what, if anything, was taken," Cook-Hayes said.

Workers at Butler's Tire Service could not be reached to comment yesterday, Setzer said he did not know the driver because he worked for the vehicle's owner, driving a vehicle affiliated with, but not owned by, Royal Cab.

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