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2 cab drivers flee holdups; one is shot

ST. PETERSBURG — Two cabdrivers dispatched to pick up customers early Thursday arrived to a surprise: guns aimed at their heads. One was shot. Neither gave up cash to his assailant.

The first attack took place around 2:50 a.m., when driver William G. Kelly went to pick up a fare at 2535 Union St. S, police said. A juvenile in a dark blue T-shirt approached the passenger side of his Independent Cab, pointed a black handgun through the open window and demanded money.

Kelly, 53, hit the gas. The gunman squeezed the trigger.

Kelly, a recent addition to Independent's 4 p.m.-to-4 a.m. shift, was shot in the right collarbone and a bullet pierced his throat, said company president Joe Rosa.

Other night-shift cabbies, listening to the ordeal over radio traffic, rushed to his aid and called for ambulances, Rosa said. He was taken to Bayfront Medical Center, where his was condition was not immediately available.

Kelly was shot about three miles northeast of where Nigerian-born cabbie Cyril Obinka was gunned down in May.

Citing dangers of the overnight shift, Rosa advises his cabbies to use a "gut feeling" on whether to pick up suspicious fares. Still, he said, "they are trying to get home and get their beef on the table."

Thirty minutes later and nearly four miles away, cab driver Michael Solt, 56, of Tampa was called to 1826 18th Ave. N, where he told police a juvenile in a black long-sleeve shirt approached the driver's side window and stuck a gun to his head.

Solt told police he thwarted the attack by driving away and flagging a nearby unmarked police car.

Casey Cora can be reached at (813) 226-3386 or at ccora@sptimes.com.

2 cab drivers flee holdups; one is shot 07/10/08 [Last modified: Saturday, July 12, 2008 11:30pm]

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