Four teenagers who police said were involved in the shooting and killing of a Lyft driver were ordered Thursday to be held in juvenile detention following an arraignment and authorities said they are investigating if the teens were involved in other recent rideshare driver robberies in the area.
A fifth teenager also was arraigned who Montgomery County Assistant Prosecutor Ann Gramza said was linked to previous robberies with some of the other teens. He, too, was ordered held in detention.
Officers were called around 2 a.m. Wednesday to the 1000 block of Ferguson Avenue where they found a 35-year-old man shot dead in his vehicle. The victim’s name was not released Thursday by the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office.
Authorities allege four teens, ages 15 or 16, had summoned the Lyft driver and planned to rob him of his vehicle. The teens have been connected to at least one other robbery Wednesday and Gramza said Thursday that there may be more cases.
“There’s been a string of incidents including multiple aggravated robberies of Uber and Lyft drivers” Gramza said during one teen’s arraignment.
The teens are charged with two counts of aggravated robbery and one count of aggravated murder. The fifth teen was charged with aggravated robbery only.
Montgomery County Juvenile Judge Helen Wallace ordered the four teens held in detention at the Montgomery County Juvenile Justice Center. They were ordered back into court on Feb. 10.
Meanwhile, an attorney who represents people injured in rideshares said the job can be dangerous.
“There is no more dangerous situation than to be in a locked car with a stranger,” said Bryant Greening, an attorney and co-founder of LegalRideShare LLC.
Greening said there are steps that can be taken to ensure everyone’s safety.
“The first step is to always trust your instincts,” Greening said. “If something doesn’t sit right, cancel. It’s not worth a few dollars to put yourself in danger or to get killed.”
He also said every driver should have a dashboard camera. LegalRideshare LLC has established a fund to provide dash cameras to Ohio-based drivers via an online giveaway.
Greening said the video can be used by police and attorneys as evidence when something goes wrong.
“Rideshare-related violence is becoming more prevalent in the media, however, our experience is that this has been a longstanding issue,” Greening said. “Criminals view rideshare drivers as sitting ducks. They are vulnerable, are often stopped waiting for fares, their doors are often unlocked, they are expecting people to approach the vehicle so their guard can be down. Criminals are targeting rideshare drivers for those reasons.”
Lyft said in a statement that it is cooperating with authorities as they investigate the Dayton homicide. It also said safety is a top priority and offers features like emergency help and 24/7 safety support to protect people who use and work for the services.
“Safety is fundamental to Lyft, and the actions that led to the events of this morning are reprehensible,” a Lyft spokesperson said. “Our hearts are with the driver’s loved ones during this incredibly difficult time, as well as with an additional driver who was impacted by this behavior. We’ve reached out to law enforcement to offer our assistance with their investigation, and we’ll continue our efforts to combat this senseless violence and help keep drivers safe.”
It said that statistically, safety incidents involving Lyft are very rare. The company said in October that 99% of all rides occur without any safety issues.
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