Boy, 15, charged in fatal shooting of taxi driver

Robbery victim is first cabbie killed on job since 2003 in Baltimore, police say

June 02, 2006|By BRENT JONES | BRENT JONES,SUN REPORTER

A 15-year-old boy was charged yesterday with fatally shooting a taxi driver in the head during what city police said was a daylight robbery in a Northeast Baltimore neighborhood.

Damon Holmes of the 6600 block of Harford Road was charged as an adult with first-degree murder, armed robbery and handgun violations in connection with the Wednesday attack. He is scheduled to have a bail hearing in District Court today.

The victim, identified in court papers as Oumar Bah, 28, worked at Jimmy's Cab, where a co-owner of the Towson-based company described him as intensely private. "He was an extremely well-loved person," said Josie Kennedy.

Police said Bah's only relatives might be in Africa and that none had been reached. Police said Bah is the first taxi driver killed on the job since 2003 in the city.

According to charging documents and police, Bah had picked up Holmes shortly before 3:30 p.m. in the Dutch Village townhouse community and, at his request, drove him to the 7100 block of McClean Blvd.

Officer Nicole Monroe, a police spokeswoman, said the passenger got out of the taxi, left and then quickly returned with a gun and got back into the cab. She said Bah was then robbed and shot in the head. Wounded, Bah stepped on the gas pedal, spinning the car out of control and crashing it into a utility pole, she said.

Bah was pronounced dead at 3:55 p.m. at Good Samaritan Hospital. Police said they arrested Holmes a short time later, after witnesses said they saw him run from the scene. Charging documents say the suspect confessed to the killing.

The last known incident in which a taxi driver was robbed and killed in Baltimore occurred when a 60-year-old was shot near his company's office in North Baltimore. That year, 55 taxi drivers across the country were killed. Fifty-three taxi drivers were killed in the United States in 2004, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Alfred LaGasse, executive vice president of the Taxicab, Limousine and Paratransit Association, a Kensington-based nonprofit trade group, said the number of taxi drivers killed has fallen since late last decade, when the number was in the triple digits. Drivers then were not required to have shields separating them and the passengers.

"When you're a 24-hour business, no matter what business you're in, you tend to have more robberies," LaGasse said.

A woman who answered the phone at Holmes' home said the family had no comment.

brent.jones@baltsun.com

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