Livery driver found fatally stabbed inside car in East New York

Thursday, September 17, 2015
Livery driver found fatally stabbed inside car in East New York
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Rob Nelson is at the scene with more

BROOKLYN, N.Y. (WABC) -- Police are searching for the person who fatally stabbed a livery cab driver in his car in the East New York section of Brooklyn early Thursday.

The driver, identified as 35-year-old Rafael Veras, was discovered inside his vehicle at Dumont Avenue and Shepherd Avenue just after 1 a.m. He was rushed to Brookdale University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The car was parked just feet away from a school, and a few white candles now mark the spot where Veras lost his life.

His brother Reanso spoke briefly with reporters, saying Rafael, who had a 17-year-old son, was a good man who never got into trouble.

"He didn't do anything wrong. He came to this country to work hard," said Reanso Pamnteal. "He's a real good guy all the time."

Police say Veras was stabbed 14 times while sitting in the driver's seat. He had recently left his restaurant job to become a driver, and Thursday was the first night he had driven alone after taking his brother's car, which he had parked while waiting for his next call.

Drivers say the area is known to be dangerous, and officials from Rafael's employer -- New Lots Car Service -- say drivers should know to avoid dark streets with little traffic. The car was equipped with a camera, and hopefully that will provide critical evidence to police.

Veras' cellphone and wallet, which had money inside, were not taken, making the motive even harder to figure out.

Taxi industry leaders are calling for police to act quickly.

"Stop and frisk has hurt our industry tremendously because now you have these guys walking around with guns and knives and cops can't stop them and search them," said Fernando Mateo of the New York Federation of Taxi Drivers. "We need more police training, more police protection. You don't see cops out here at night. Rather than having them out during the day, shift them to nighttime, get more details in these neighborhoods where people are losing their lives."

The investigation is ongoing, and anyone with information is asked to call police.