Minneapolis taxi driver robbed at gunpoint, suspect photos shared with all cabbies

- A Minneapolis cab company has shared surveillance photos and video with all taxi drivers in the Twin Cities metro after a driver was robbed at gunpoint early Friday, Feb. 10.

It was a terrifying 5 minutes for Alemu Abebe, who was dispatched to the area of W. 35th Street and Aldrich Avenue S. at 5:30 a.m. Friday. Not long after welcoming two men into his Blue and White taxi, the long-time cab driver was doing everything his passengers asked, with a gun to his head.

“Where they money at?” the suspects can be heard yelling. “I need everything." 

Abebe replied, “Take it. take it.”

Abebe handed over his wallet, phone, tablet, keys and even gave the robbers a ring he wears on his wedding finger. His boss, Waleen Sonbol, is thankful for the cameras installed in the entire fleet of cabs -- cameras that have been installed across Blue and White's fleet.

Sonbol wasted no time getting the images of the suspects out for everyone to see and to warn other drivers across the Twin Cities metro.

“We are actually investing in new cameras that are cloud-based,” Sonbol said. “If we can call 911 and send a clip at that moment and see who's doing it and where they are at -- we hope to get that technology in to the cars very soon here.”

Sonbol doesn't want to give too much detail, but say Abebe did everything right, by hitting a silent alarm, which alerts dispatch to a problem. At one point, the young robbers got spooked when another taxi pulled alongside them.

In surveillance video within the cab the suspects can be heard saying, “you are going to start the car and pull of slowly. Do not make eye contact.”

Nearly 5 terrifying minutes later, the suspects got out of the taxi and walked away, but Abebe said he will never forget their faces.

“I'm ok,” Abebe said. “It's a character of the job, you have to expect it.”

Anybody with information should call Minneapolis police at 612-692-TIPS.

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