Cabdriver killed in apparent robbery

Fatal shooting occurred close to taxi offices

April 24, 2003|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

A 60-year-old taxi driver was fatally shot during an apparent robbery early yesterday just a few hundred feet from his company's offices in North Baltimore, police said.

Detectives said they had no suspects in the killing of Jesse Gross, a veteran cabdriver, and were trying to find witnesses and round up videotapes from surveillance cameras mounted on buildings near the shooting scene.

The shooting occurred about 3:30 a.m. as Gross was sitting in his idling taxi in the 200 block of W. 21st St., police said. He had nearly finished his 12-hour shift for Yellow Transportation Inc. and was waiting to take company employees home, police and colleagues said.

A witness told detectives that two men approached Gross in what the witness thought was a robbery attempt, police said. One of the men apparently shot Gross, police said, and the cab accelerated around the corner and into the 2100 block of Huntingdon Ave. The cab slammed into several parking meters and stopped at a fence surrounding a power transformer.

The first officers to arrive at the scene did not know there had been a shooting and thought they were investigating a serious auto accident. Detectives did not determine that Gross had been shot until doctors at Maryland General Hospital discovered at least one bullet wound, police said.

Gross, of the 2200 block of Allendale Road, died about 4:15 a.m.

He was the city's 83rd homicide victim of the year.

Police said the only witness they found did not see the shooting. Detectives believe the shooting might have been committed by two men who tried to rob another cabdriver in the area about 15 minutes earlier.

Fellow taxi drivers said they were stunned by the brazen attack so close to the offices of Yellow Transportation Inc.

"It's unbelievable," said Dereje Gugsa, 45, a cabdriver. "If they could do it here, they could do it anywhere."

A general manager of Yellow Transportation, Dwight R. Kines, recalled yesterday that Gross was a hard-working driver and a kind-hearted man.

"He was a terrific guy," Kines said. "Nobody can say anything bad about Jesse. Everybody is extremely upset."

Driving a taxi has always been a relatively dangerous occupation, filled with robberies and car wrecks. But Gross enjoyed his work, said a close friend, Natalie Ford.

Gross was born in Baltimore. He was abandoned as an infant on the doorstep of the home of Ford's mother and father. Ford said her family accepted Gross as one of their own.

Gross, a graduate of Carver Vocational-Technical High School, became a taxi driver in 1978. He has worked for Yellow Cab for the past 10 years. Ford said he was married at one time and had a son and daughter, whom she is trying to reach.

Anyone with information is urged to call homicide Detective Irvin Bradley at 410-396- 2100. Yellow Transportation is offering a $2,000 reward, as is Metro Crime Stoppers, for information leading to the arrest and indictment of a suspect.

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