Taxi driver found shot to death in Lincoln Square

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A taxi driver was found shot to death inside his cab Monday morning in the 4400-block of North Leavitt in Chicago's Lincoln Square neighborhood.

Chicago police are investigating the death as a homicide. Friends and co-workers said the victim was in Rogers Park Sunday night.

"He was picking up a fare from Rogers Park, which is from the McDonalds and he got a call from the company, and it was at Pratt and Clark, and that's what we know, that he picked up the fare and he brought him over here," said his friend Ahmed Kassam.

The cab driver was identified by a relative as Kamil Shamji, 59. His family said he was born in Karachi, Pakistan, and made his way to Chicago for a better life. Relatives said he had two adult daughters and worked as a cab driver for 35 years.

Shamji reportedly picked up his last fare around 11 p.m. Sunday, but was not found until Monday morning. Shamji was found in his taxi, which was parked just behind the Lincoln Square library.

"I think it's really sad and upsetting that it happened in our neighborhood," says Bea Cervantes, a neighbor.

United Taxidrivers Community Council spokesman Peter Enger said a photo of his last passenger should be available because the taxis are equipped with cameras. Although the photo has not been released, the council hoped the images would be made public so other taxi drivers could avoid the possible shooter.

No one is in custody. Police said they are looking for any information citizens may have.

Syed Saddiq, a friend and fellow cab driver, said their work comes with this kind of risk. He wonders if it was a robbery.

"This is the life, you never know, anything is possible on the street," he says. "And bad guys, they don't care."

"It is just horrifying to hear, to imagine someone spending their moments on this earth in that fear," said Cheryl Miller, Cab Drivers United.

Cab Drivers United said Monday night that enough is enough. Around this time last year, two cab drivers, Chinedu Madu and Seneca Richardson, were murdered in robberies.

The union called on the city for help, wanting silent alarms connected to GPS installed in cars that drivers can set off during an emergency.

"What we want is for the burden not to be on individual drivers having to try to figure it out but in a system of safety protocols that include a panic alarm," Miller said.

The union called on the city to address violence against cab drivers immediately.

Shamji's relatives are on their way Chicago. His friends and colleagues at Flash Cab said they plan to memorialize him in some way. But at this time, they're just dealing with the shock of his death.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.
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