DETROIT (WWJ) – Detroit police are investigating a deadly double shooting on the city’s northwest side Thursday morning, just hours before the mayor and interim police chief are expected to discuss Detroit’s alarming crime statistics for the past year.
WWJ’s Laura Bonnell reports the shooting happened around 4 a.m. when a Metropolitan Cab Co. driver was attempting to drop off a passenger at Sunderland Avenue and Cambridge Road, near 7 Mile Road and the Southfield Freeway.
The 45-year-old driver was apparently trying to prevent being robbed when he was shot in the head. He was declared dead at the scene. The woman riding in the man’s cab was also shot and is currently in critical condition at a local hospital.
After the shooting, the gunman fled the scene in the victim’s cab. Police say the cab was recovered miles away at Mack Avenue and St. Antoine Street, near I-75 on the city’s east side, but the shooter remains at large.
After police cleared the scene, Detroit fire crews were called in to clean blood from the ice covering the streets, followed by a road truck which dumped salt in the area to prevent new ice from forming. Investigators also called in a K-9 unit to track the suspect.
No arrests have been made. An investigation is ongoing.
Jerry Hollis, a manager with Metropolitan Cab Co., said cab drivers have one of the most dangerous jobs in the city, but they’re hard workers. He said the employee they lost in this violent shooting will be greatly missed.
“This driver in particular usually comes in early every night, every night around 2:30 or 3 o’clock, tops, he’s done with his work, brings the cab in early, pays his lease and goes home about his business,” Hollis said. “He was a very good guy, a hard worker, worked six days a week, he never caused any problems. He was a very decent guy and this is very unfortunate.”
News of the shooting spread quickly to other cab drivers who are trying to make a living in Detroit. Jerry Tommy Bell, who’s been a cabbie in Detroit for over 10 years, said he was shot in the face by a passenger in the same area along Mack Avenue where police recovered the stolen cab Thursday.
“September 1, 2010, I picked up a passenger who didn’t want to pay the fare,” Bell told WWJ’s Ron Dewey. ”We were en route to the police station when he fired the first two shots through the, what I found out later was bullet resistant glass. It hit me in the leg and then the other two shots that he fired, one of them hit me in the face. I rammed the car into a tree in order to get this guy off me.”
Bell said cab drivers need to always be alert and know who is riding in the back seat in order to stay safe in the city.
“It always sends a real bad feeling to my stomach to be able to see a cab parked with police lights shining on it, you know, you pretty much know something bad already has happened,” said Bell.
Cab drivers have been robbery targets recently in Detroit. One was killed in September and another was fatally shot in October.
“From cabs getting ran off the road to drivers getting killed and robbed, it is senseless really,” said Hollis.
Thursday’s shooting happened just hours before Mayor Dave Bing and interim Police Chief Chester Logan are expected to address the city’s 2012 crime statistics. While major crime overall was down over two percent, more homicides were committed in the city last year than in 2011. The city’s website lists 375 murders reported through Dec. 16, compared to 344 for all of 2011. It’s the highest murder rate in nearly 20 years.
Stay with WWJ Newsradio 950 and CBSDetroit.com as this story develops.