OLEAN, N.Y. (WIVB) — A taxi driver is robbed at gunpoint after the passenger couldn’t pay the fare, according to New York State Police. It’s the second time in 10 days a cab driver has been threatened.
The Coldspring Taxi Service told News 4 its drivers know the risks of the job, but driver Laverne Palmer said he’s never had a scare like this. He’s been a driver for eight years.
“First thing I’m thinking about is saving my life,” said Palmer.
Palmer told News 4 he can still feel the gun on the back on his neck nearly 24 hours after he was threatened during a cab ride from downtown Buffalo to Olean.
“I’m not going to say it comes every day but we get good fares like that,” said Palmer. “This was just crazy, the person just went crazy.”
Palmer told News 4 he was talking with 24-year-old passenger Darrin Hunter about family and relationships, when Hunter said he couldn’t pay his fare. Palmer stopped the cab at a 7-Eleven in the Village of Allegany, according to NYS Police.
“He flashed a gun, put it to the back of my neck, flashed it around and asked if I cared about my kids, wanted to die for my kids and stuff like that,” said Palmer. “[He] said he’d kill me right now.”
Palmer jumped out of the cab and ran into the convenience store. The clerk called 911.
Hunter took off with the cab and later crashed it on I-86 Westbound in the Town of Carrollton, where New York State Police arrested him. Police said the investigation revealed Hunter had a black, yet realistic looking, air pistol.
“[Palmer] perceived at that time that was a real gun and his life was being threatened,” said NYS Trooper Jim O’ Callaghan. “Even if it was an air soft gun, if he were to pull the trigger on an airsoft gun and hit the cab driver in the eye that would’ve caused serious injury.”
Hunter will be charged as if the gun were real.
Hunter was arrested for first degree robbery, third degree grand larceny, second degree criminal mischief, second degree menacing, fourth degree criminal possession of a weapon and other violations.
A judge remanded Hunter to the Cattaraugus County Jail on $25,000 bail.
The incident is the latest violence against a cab driver in western New York. Niagara Falls cab drivers say they’ve experienced a rash of violence. Learn more here.
The manager for the Coldspring Taxi Service said his drivers are at risk every day.
“You’ve got guys out here trying to make an honest living, ya know, get out of their bed at 4:00 a.m. try to get out there, work, feed their families and this is the type of stuff that happens, unfortunately,” said John Chessond, the manager.