Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Kidnapped Cabbie Mulugeta Shiferaw, Remains Unresponsive

Friends and family of a cab driver who was kidnapped, bound and stuffed in the trunk of his own cab remained by his side Monday evening praying for his recovery.

Mulugeta Shiferaw, 30, suffered a serious brain injury. Shiferaw picked up Charles Black Saturday morning around 10:00 a.m. Cincinnati Police say Black, a convicted felon, robbed Shiferaw and forced him into the trunk of his cab. Black then drove around the city Saturday with Shiferaw tied up in the trunk. Police caught Black after a high speed chase through several neighborhoods Saturday evening. Shiferaw was found unconscious in the trunk.

Shiferaw, a native of Ethiopia, has been driving for the West Side Cab company for less than six months. His boss, Ayana Basha, said Monday he was taking steps to make his cabbies safer.

“The good news is today I just got from a company a GPS tracking system to install in all of my cars so that way my driver, thing like that happen, so we can respond quick," Basha said.

Basha said he had ordered the GPS system before Shiferaw’s kidnapping.

Meanwhile, former and current cab drivers said Monday the job comes with some risks.

"You never know. Most people are good and there's a small percentage that aren't,” said Mike Montgomery, a former cabbie who was robbed and shot in his cab last year. Montgomery survived but has trouble swallowing. He lost his voice for a year and lost vision in one eye.

"I guess people think cab drivers are an easy target but they don't carry that much money anyway to make it worth it," Montgomery said.

Other cab drivers approached by Local 12 News Monday said they have concerns about safety. At least two said they had been robbed or beaten up by fares during their careers.

"They ask you to take them to places. Once there, they don't pay you, or they harass you. There are many things,” said cab driver Housseini Issa.

One cabbie said “I trust my gut” when it comes to picking up fares.

Mulugeta Shiferaw did just that Saturday morning. He called a friend and told him he had a bad feeling about Charles Black. Shiferaw gave the friend Black’s cell phone number, speaking in Ethiopian. Police used Black’s cell phone number to track the cab throughout the day.

Charles Black appeared in Hamilton County Court Monday morning where a judge set his bail at $1.5 million. Black is a convicted felon who was released from prison September 2. He’d served a nine month sentence for a drug charge.

Meanwhile, Ayana Basha said doctors performed more tests on Shiferaw’s brain Monday. They hoped to have the test results Tuesday morning. He said he and Shiferaw’s wife and other family members were encouraged by a slight head movement Shiferaw showed Monday evening, but he remained unresponsive.

"Their spirit is very strong. They believe in God so they know God is going to do something. A miracle,” Basha said of Shiferaw’s family. He added, “"We want people to pray for him. The money part is important, but the praying part is very important."

Basha said he and Shiferaw’s family are grateful to the police and public for their prayers and support.

Mulugeta Shiferaw does not have medical insurance. A fund has been set up in his name at Fifth Third Bank to help pay for his medical bills.