Manitoba

'I saw a bullet pass by my ears': Cabbie feared for life when passenger fired shotgun inside taxi

A Winnipeg cab driver says he's lucky to be alive after a passenger pulled out a sawed-off shotgun and started shooting it out of the taxi window.

First shot targeted apartment building, second went through taxi windshield

A Unicity Taxi driver says a passenger fired a bullet through his front windshield around 2:30 a.m. Sunday. (Submitted)

A Winnipeg cab driver says he's lucky to be alive after a passenger pulled out a sawed-off shotgun and started shooting it out of the taxi window.

The 39-year-old Unicity Taxi driver, whose identity CBC News has agreed to conceal, was dispatched to pick up two men from Dufferin Avenue and Robinson Street, in the city's North End, around 2:30 a.m. Sunday.
The driver says it happened Sunday morning shortly after he picked up two men and a woman. He says the man sitting in the back pulled out a sawed-off shot gun and handed it to the passenger in the front. 2:20

The men asked if he could swing by an apartment on Royal Avenue and Main Street to pick up a woman. He did and the passengers then asked him to drive back to Dufferin and Robinson.

The driver said for the first 10 minutes of the 20-minute ride everything seemed normal. Then the man sitting in the back seat pulled out the shotgun and handed it to the passenger in the front and everything changed.

A Unicity Taxi driver says a passenger pulled out a sawed-off shotgun and fired it out of the window randomly. (Gary Solilak/CBC News)

"First moment I didn't realize it's a gun and then after that when I look I said 'it looks like a gun,' so my heartbeat started getting 'Oh my God what will happen today, I don't think I can go alive home,'" the driver told CBC News.

He said the passenger next to him rolled down the window and pointed the firearm at an apartment block on Main Street.

Not knowing what else to do, the cabbie said he made up a story, hoping it would disuade the passenger from firing his gun.

"I say 'oh there's a police car I think coming behind us.' So he hide the gun. But it's no police coming, I just say to save the people in the apartment block," the cabbie says.

They saying 'we can shoot on the cops.- Taxi driver

His lie initially worked but then the passengers started threatening to shoot at police.

"They saying 'we can shoot on the cops,'" the driver said.

Although the passengers didn't threaten him directly, he said he feared for his life because they were waving the gun around inside the cab.

"If they don't scare from the cops, how they can scare from me?" he said.

Passenger fired 2 shots

The driver said the gun was fired twice before all of the passengers got out of his cab.

The first shot targeted an apartment building on King Street and Flora Avenue. The second went through the driver side of the taxi windshield.

The incident happened Sunday morning after the taxi driver picked up two men at Dufferin Avenue and Robinson Street. (Gary Solilak/CBC News)

The cabbie doesn't know if the man intended to shoot him and missed or if he was aiming for something else.

"He shot from inside and it goes really close to my head," the driver said. "I saw a bullet pass by my ears. If he even two inches this side, I probably gone today."

The married father of three — and sole provider for his family — came to Canada from India in 2003 and has been driving a taxi for 13 years.

He's been verbally assaulted on the job, but has never expienced anything like this.

This is really scary thing. I never expected that this thing could be happen to me. It's life threatening.- Taxi driver

He said the passenger fired the shot right before he and his friends exited the taxi at Dufferin and Robinson. The blast left a loonie-sized hole in his windshield.

The driver was so scared it took a few minutes before he could figure out what to do.

At first he turned on the emergency strobe light at the back of his cab hoping someone would call police. Then he realized he was able to call 911.

"This is really scary thing. I never expected that this thing could be happen to me. It's life threatening."

He said police came right away and within no time they had the suspects in custody.

"The police is very good here in Winnipeg. They respond very quickly, very quickly," the driver said.

2 men arrested

Police arrested two men, aged 19 and 24. Both are facing a number of charges including possession and use of a restricted firearm.

"Thankfully in this case the taxi driver was not injured," said Const. Tammy Skrabek.

"There was a high potential here, just based on the erratic behaviour of the people in the car for the taxi driver to have been shot and injured."

She said it was fortunate no one was walking in the area when the passenger fired the gun.

"Seems to be completely random, random shots. This is pretty brazen and if you're the taxi driver, what do you do?" she said.

While he took one night off after the shooting, the driver said he is back to working the overnight shift.

"When I tell to my wife the story, she told me 'you shouldn't have to do that job.' And I say, 'if I don't do somebody will do. People need cabs to ride,'" the driver said.

About the Author

Caroline Barghout

Investigative Reporter, CBC Manitoba I-Team

Caroline began her career co-hosting an internet radio talk show in Toronto and then worked at various stations in Oshawa, Sudbury and Toronto before landing in Winnipeg in 2007. Since joining CBC Manitoba as a reporter in 2013, she has won an award for her work on crowded jails and her investigation into Tina Fontaine's death led to changes in the child welfare system. Email: caroline.barghout@cbc.ca