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Cabdriver shot to death in Clearwater

Investigators examine the cab where Jack LaGrand, 50, was found dead Wednesday morning at the Cabaret Center. He was shot between 1 and 2 a.m., police said.

JIM DAMASKE | Times

Investigators examine the cab where Jack LaGrand, 50, was found dead Wednesday morning at the Cabaret Center. He was shot between 1 and 2 a.m., police said.

CLEARWATER — Just before 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, a store owner in the Cabaret Center strip mall was pulling into the rear parking lot when he saw a Yellow Cab with a body inside.

Clearwater police said the dead man was 50-year-old Jack LaGrand, the driver of the vehicle.

He had been shot, police said, between 1 and 2 a.m. at the mall, which is at 25706 U.S. 19 N, south of Westfield Countryside Mall.

Detectives have reviewed surveillance videos from the property and found information about the crime, but it is not being released at this time, said Clearwater police spokeswoman Elizabeth Daly-Watts.

LaGrand is the third Pinellas County cabdriver to be killed this year. The other two slayings were in St. Petersburg.

Cullan F. Meathe, president and CEO of Yellow Cab Service Corp. of Florida, said LaGrand had been with the company for 51/2 years and "was considered a model driver who had an excellent safety record and great on-time performance.''

"He was considered a good guy,'' Meathe said. "A very mild-mannered gentleman who liked working the night shift.''

Meathe said LaGrand was an independent contractor who leased his car on weekly basis.

LaGrand was married and lived at Chesapeake Luxury Apartments on Primrose Lane in Clearwater, just minutes from the Cabaret Center.

His wife, Donna LaGrand, 59, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Robert Luke, who drives a Yellow Cab, heard about the killing while listening to the radio and came to the parking lot see if any of his friends were involved. He knew a driver named Jack and hoped it wasn't him.

"You think about it a lot,'' he said. "Anything can happen. You have to stay alert all the time.''

Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report. Eileen Schulte can be reached at schulte@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4153.

Pinellas cabdriver slayings this year

July 12: Yellow Cab driver Linda Faison, 39, was found dead near Azalea Middle School in St. Petersburg hours after police said she picked up a passenger.

May 2: Blue Star cab driver Cyril Obinka, 45, was found shot in the abdomen on 26th Street S in St. Petersburg.

Cabdriver shot to death in Clearwater 09/17/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 17, 2008 8:29pm]
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