ST. PETERSBURG — Call it the fare from hell: A cab driver was attacked by a customer who slashed him in the face and stole his cab Tuesday night, according to St. Petersburg police.
Police said it wasn't too hard to find the suspect: Officers said they found Lacharion Nicole Butler at the address where the cab had picked her up.
The 22-year-old woman was arrested on charges of aggravated battery and carjacking. She's accused of attacking and robbing Blue Star Cab driver Stephens Salami on his 43rd birthday.
Here is what happened, according to police:
The cab driver was dispatched to 2110 28th St. S to pick up Butler about 6 p.m.
She asked the driver to take her to the 700 block of 63rd Ave. S and told him to wait for her. When she returned a few minutes later, she was smoking a marijuana cigarette.
The driver told her she couldn't bring that into the cab. She put it out and asked to go home.
As the driver headed north on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street S, Butler reached from the back seat and grabbed the driver by the neck. Then she started to slash at his face and neck with a box cutter. The driver stopped, freed himself from her grip and ran to a nearby house for help. Butler got into the driver's seat of his 2002 Chevy Impala and took off.
When officers found Butler at the address where the driver picked her up, she told them several stories.
Police said Butler first said she knew nothing about the incident. But, according to police, she had blood on her clothes and cuts on her fingers. Then she said there was a second person in the cab who attacked the driver before she admitted that she was alone in the back seat, police said.
Then she said the driver grabbed her arm because he knew she couldn't pay for the fare, so she grabbed a box cutter from the front seat and tried to slash at his eyes to free herself, according to police. The driver told police he didn't have a box cutter and doesn't know why she attacked him.
One more note from police: When they arrived at Butler's home, another cab arrived soon afterward. Butler denied she called that cab. The abandoned cab was later found nearby.
The driver was treated at a hospital for injuries not considered life-threatening. Butler was being held Wednesday in the county jail in lieu of $60,000 bail.