Bethel cab driver shot to death

Korean-owned cab companies shut down after killing

Posted: Wednesday, December 13, 2006

ANCHORAGE - A Bethel taxi driver was killed when suspects on a snowmachine approached his idling cab and shot him in the head with a shotgun, according to city officials.

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While police would not release the man's name because his kin in Korea have not been notified, he was identified by a close friend as Ju Young Joung. He was known as J.J., said the friend, Peter Kim, who worked the night shift at Taxi Cab Company with Joung.

Joung, 45, had lived in Bethel for more than 10 years, Kim told The Anchorage Daily News.

"He's a likable guy," Kim said. "He doesn't want to make any kind of trouble."

A call to the Bethel police chief was not immediately returned Tuesday.

The shooting occurred shortly after midnight Saturday, Baird said. At least two snowmachines pulled up alongside either side of the cab as it sat in front of a video store before the shooting.

Either before or after, the driver reversed the cab, crossed a busy street and traveled about 230 feet before backing into an auto body shop, Baird said.

The homicide and two recent, unsolved robberies of cab drivers at gunpoint have unsettled people in the community of 6,000, Kim said.

"We are kind of confused" and shocked, Kim said. "This is first time this kind of thing (a homicide) happened. We never thought about it."

Korean-owned cab companies have shut down since the killing, Kim said Monday night, out of respect for Joung.

More than 100 people, including many cab drivers and community members, prayed and sang Korean hymns in a candlelight vigil along the taped-off crime scene Sunday evening.

Taxicab drivers were planning to speak out at a city council meeting Tuesday night, he said.

Cabbies have reported acts of vandalism against them, such as rocks thrown through windows of moving cabs and punctured tires, Kim said.

"I feel really, really unsafe right now," he said.

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