2007-01-19 / Front Page

Thugs Shove Gun In Cabby's Face, Steal His Cash

By Brian Magoolaghan

Police Officer Szurkowski of the 101 Precinct dusts the cab for fingerprints. Police declined to say if they had any leads in their investigation.Police Officer Szurkowski of the 101 Precinct dusts the cab for fingerprints. Police declined to say if they had any leads in their investigation. Just hours after an anti-violence march made its way through Rockaway on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a driver for a local car service - a father of three young girls - was assaulted and found himself staring down the barrel of a handgun, wondering if he'd be the next victim of gun violence in the Rockaways.

The ordeal began at about 8:20 p.m. on Monday, January 15, when four black men between the ages of 17 and 22 years old got into a cab they called to Beach 69 Street, according to police and the driver. One of the men sat in the passenger seat, while the three others piled into the back.

The men, who each had the hoods from their hooded sweatshirts pulled up, directed the cabbie to take them to the Ocean Bay Houses. Then they changed their minds and wanted to go to Ocean Village.

When the cabbie reached Beach 67 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard, at least one of the thugs in the back seat hit him in the back of his head, he said. The suspect in the passenger seat pulled a silver revolver and shoved it in his face.

"I got hit over the head a few times, then I had the gun in my face and they were trying to get me to drive to the side where it's dark: by the beach," recounted the cabbie, who spoke to The Wave on the condition that his name would not be used in this story. "I thought they were going to shoot me and leave me there."

The thugs demanded the cabby's cash - $20 to $25, according to the driver and police, and took the ignition key to his vehicle so that he could not chase after them or quickly get help. Then they ran away, heading north on Beach 67 Street and west on Rockaway Freeway.

The driver said he immediately radioed his dispatcher, who alerted police. Officers searched the area for suspects, but no arrests were made at press time. Police dusted for fingerprints and were able to review footage from a video recorder inside the vehicle, but investigators declined to say if they had any leads.

The driver remained unsettled by the incident when he was interviewed by The Wave on Wednesday. "You never know who gets into a cab, but I have kids to feed," he said. Fare-beating is occasionally a problem, he said, but the robbery by force took him by surprise as did the irony of it being the day the nation honors civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. - a day when a march was held in Rockaway to stem gun violence, which has recently spiked here. "This was supposed to be a day when people are marching for peace," he said.

Police ask anyone with information to call the 101 Precinct Detective Squad at 718-868-3428 or Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS.

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