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Cabbie accused of pepper-spraying rider, firing gun in fare dispute

Lisa Demer

An Anchorage taxi driver upset when a rider didn't have the full fare pepper-sprayed the man, then pulled out a handgun and fired a shot or two, Anchorage police said Monday.

Police charged Hee Joong Chai, 63, with two counts of third-degree felony assault and one count of fourth-degree weapons misconduct in connection with the Saturday morning incident on Reka Drive, according to police spokeswoman Dani Myren.

The fare ended up being $11 but the man only had $5 on him and said he'd get the rest from his apartment, Myren said.

"That did not make the cab driver happy," she said. "An argument ensued."

The cab driver is accused of locking the rider into the cab. "At some point the driver sprayed the victim with pepper spray," Myren said.

The victim kicked out the passenger window. On the street, the driver then pulled out his gun and fired it at the ground once or twice, Myren said.

Eric Stoneback, 50, was the rider and he said the cab driver was "just wigging out." He said he called for a cab about 6:15 a.m. Saturday to take him home from his girlfriend's house. The cabbie was "flying" down DeBarr and wouldn't stop when asked to, Stoneback said. He said he didn't know what sparked the behavior and that he didn't recall a fare dispute. The incident shook him up, he said.

The cab was dispatched by Alaska Yellow Cab.

Chai was arrested. He posted $2,500 bail and was released on Saturday, court records show.

Reach Lisa Demer at ldemer@adn.com or 257-4390.

 


By LISA DEMER
ldemer@adn.com