Taxi Drivers and Dispatchers Cautious

Douglas Withers
Douglas Withers

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Honolulu police are investigating yet another armed robbery involving an Oahu taxi driver. Police say the hold-up happened in Kalihi early Tuesday morning. It follows two other incidents in which cab drivers were shot.

Douglas Withers was a taxi driver for nearly seven years. He got out of his cab in 1996, and became a taxi dispatcher.

"Back then, it was starting to get rough," he said. "That's, that's one of the reasons why I got out of it."

Now, it's his job to send drivers off into the unknown.

"Working at the airport, I don't worry too much because a lot of these drivers pick up passengers, tourists," he said. "But when they get into Waikiki and people flag them down, that's when I worry."

It was a frightening night for one taxi driver. Police say the 37-year-old man picked up a passenger near the intersection of Kalakaua Avenue and Kapiolani Boulevard at about midnight. The passenger asked the driver to take him to Kalihi.

The cabbie told investigators he pulled into a bank's parking lot on Dillingham Boulevard, and then felt what he believes was a knife pressed against his body. Police say the suspect stole money from the victim, and then ordered him to start driving again.

The taxi driver's ordeal finally ended at McNeill and Kalani Streets, when the passenger jumped out of the car and ran away.

"This their livelihood," Withers said. "And for some guys to just take away their livelihood, it don't make sense."

Police are still looking for a suspect in Friday night's cab driver shooting. The victim was shot in the neck near the Pearlridge First Hawaiian Bank ATM. He remains in the hospital.

"More and more drivers are getting hurt, getting robbed," Withers said. "It's just ridiculous."

Last month, cab driver Manh Nguyen was shot and killed at a Tantalus lookout. Police say the driver in Tuesday morning's case had just minor scratches on his hand.