Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | John Dooley

Slain cabbie John Dooley looked out for his customers

TAMPA — John Dooley was the kind of cab driver who took the same old women to the same doctors for years.

He was the kind who would chauffeur his fares to Ybor or wherever else, until the bars closed.

He also took calls other drivers avoided.

On Dec. 8, Mr. Dooley, a 32-year veteran with Yellow Cab, responded to a call in East Tampa. One of the men who got into the cab fatally shot him, police said.

Mr. Dooley was 56.

"He was a part of our lives," said Tammy Inman, 47, who got to know Mr. Dooley as a cab driver and then as a friend.

Mr. Dooley often worked at night, finding addresses with a side-mounted, police-strength spotlight. He paid $92 a shift to lease the cab, then paid for his own gas.

Drivers don't start making a profit until they take in about $150 in fares, said Arthur Spike, who shared a cab with Mr. Dooley for nine years.

There was money to be made. A friend of Inman's counted on Mr. Dooley to deliver a gallon of rum and cigarettes to his house, rewarding the cabbie with $100 tips.

But the commodity Mr. Dooley valued most was friendship, not fares.

Barbara Rosenthal and her partner, Chris Salter, had been riding with Mr. Dooley since 2007. They shared an appreciation for 1960s rock 'n' roll.

"We'd get in the cab and he'd have something very obscure on, and we'd have to guess what was on," said Rosenthal, 48. "That was the game we played."

All three also rooted for the Tampa Bay Rays and went to games together in Mr. Dooley's cab. Even apart, he vented in text messages over Joe Maddon decisions or blown saves.

"If they made a bonehead play, my phone went off," Rosenthal said.

Her work as a documentary filmmaker hit a dry patch about four years ago. The twice-a-week cab rides dwindled to none.

After six weeks without a call, Mr. Dooley texted that he was coming over. He insisted that the couple get out for the evening. Then he drove them to an Ybor City night spot, gave them $30 to spend and took them home a few hours later.

John M. Dooley was born in Rahway, N.J., in 1957, the son of an oil company executive.

He moved to Pasco County with his family as a teenager and earned a high school equivalency degree. He drove a truck for a while, then latched on with Yellow Cab.

His own lifestyle was not much different from those of his workaday customers. Mr. Dooley lived in a Hudson mobile home with James Dooley, his brother and a Times circulation supervisor.

He delivered groceries to his mother in assisted living twice a week, then stayed for dinner.

"He was my rock," said Joan Dooley, 88.

After 32 years on the job, Mr. Dooley took calls considered too risky by other drivers.

"I told him I think he should stop working in that neighborhood, but he wouldn't stop," said Spike, 63.

About 8 p.m. Dec. 8, Mr. Dooley picked up three passengers on Mallory Avenue, between College Hill and Ybor City. He drove into Sulphur Springs when one of the men shot him.

Devante Bell, 19, was charged with first-degree murder. The other two men remained at large Friday.

News about the cab driver's murder filtered quickly to friends. Inman saw a report on television and started making phone calls.

Was it John? She thought so.

Detectives showed up at Joan Dooley's residence. She appreciated their kindness.

Rosenthal, who had exchanged Christmas gifts with Dooley a year ago, said she and her partner are "completely shocked."

"It took a couple of days not to be in denial about it."

Andrew Meacham can be reached at or (727) 892-2248.


John M. Dooley

Born: Jan. 23, 1957

Died: Dec. 8, 2013

Survivors: mother, Joan Dooley; sister, Jane Dooley; and brother, James Dooley

Slain cabbie John Dooley looked out for his customers 12/21/13 [Last modified: Saturday, December 21, 2013 6:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. One of St. Petersburg's newest condo projects is sold out

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — Reflecting the continued demand for condos in downtown St. Petersburg, The Salvador, completed earlier this year at 199 Dali Blvd., has sold out. Records show that a 2-bedroom, 2-bath unit sold Friday for $620,000 in an all-cash deal. Two other units — a 3-bedroom, 2-bath penthouse and a …

     Reflecting the continued demand for condos in downtown St. Petersburg, The Salvador, completed earlier this year at 199 Dali Blvd., has sold out. 
[Rendering courtesy of aalliiggnn LLC]
  2. Tedd Webb, co-host of top morning radio show, calling it quits after five decades

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — It's 9 Monday morning and Tedd Webb is exhausted.

    Radio personality Tedd Webb hopes to continue spending an hour each mid-day on the financial show The Opening Bell but he'll be stepping down from the top-rated morning show he co-hosts with Jack Harris. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]

  3. Pasco OKs higher fee for drainage work

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Trying to keep neighborhoods drier is going to cost Pasco County property owners some extra dollars.

    Commissioner Mike Wells Jr., who voted against a higher storm-water fee in February, supported the increase this time. "Bottom line: It's needed,'' he said.
  4. Florida Gators announce 2018 football schedule


    The Florida Gators announced their 2018 football schedule Tuesday, including an early SEC game against Kentucky and a matchup against Colorado State, which was part of coach Jim McElwain's buyout from the Rams.

  5. Directors of Haunted Mansion doc talk bringing piece of Disney history to Orlando


    Filmmakers Ryan Grulich and James H. Carter II aren't just casual fans of The Haunted Mansion ride. They're obsessed.

    Publicity still from the Foolish Mortals documentary.