MINNEAPOLIS - Police say a cab driver was found with a fatal gunshot wound in north Minneapolis Wednesday night.
The medical examiner identified the victim late Thursday as 56-year-old William Harper of Roseville. An autopsy showed that Harper died of a gunshot wound to the back.
Police were called to the the 400 block of 23rd Avenue North just after 10 p.m. where they found Harper shot inside his cab.
Paramedics performed lifesaving measures on the scene before the Yellow Cab driver was taken to North Memorial Medical Center where he died.
Officers used a K9 to try to track the shooter but were unsuccessful. Neighbors told Kare11 that a young man with dreadlocks and a white T-shirt was seen running from the crime scene.
One of the neighbors cradled the cabbie's head in his hands and tried to reassure him while paramedics were called.
Inspector Mike Martin of the Minneapolis 4th Precinct says it's been quite some time since a cab driver has been shot, killed or assaulted on the north side. He says investigators don't believe the murder is related to a a recent spike of violence in his precinct.
The department will be increasing patrols in coming weeks to reduce the number of violent crimes taking place.
Minneapolis Councilmember Don Samuels took camera-phone photos of the crime scene and lamented the loss.
"This is the second bonafide homicide of the year (in Minneapolis). So, we're doing better than we used to, but, in a way, it makes each homicide even more significant, as it should," said Samuels.
Martin added that his officers had talked to several residents who say Harper was known and liked in the area, suggesting he regularly served north side customers.
Neighbors said the heavyset driver was picking up and dropping off passengers in the area regularly and some of the children called him "Santa Claus" because of his portly build and facial hair.
Thursday afternoon, Steve Pint, the president and CEO Taxi Services, Inc., the company the cab driver worked for, released the following statement:
"We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of our driver's last night and are currently working with investigators. We are deferring to the Minneapolis Police Department regarding any further information including releasing the driver's name so as not to affect the investigation and to ensure proper notifications can be made."
Police are interviewing possible suspects and checking into the last address the cabbie was called to, but no one has been officially taken into custody.
Anyone with information on this case is asked to contact the Minneapolis Police Department.
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