Jamaica man charged in April livery slaying

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Police arrested a second suspect Monday in the April 21 killing of a livery cabbie in Jamaica who became the first driver to die on the job in the city in just under a year.

Two other livery drivers were murdered and one attacked in Ridgewood in the next three weeks.

Ronald Coleman, 45, of 107-26 Guy Brewer Blvd. in Jamaica was arrested and charged with murder in the second degree, meaning he had the intent to kill the victim, said Cadet John Buthoron, a police spokesman.

The victim, Gurdev Lal, 56, of 49-16 99th St. in Corona, was shot twice and killed as he drove his livery cab on 102nd Avenue in Jamaica, police said. He is survived by a wife and three children in India.

On April 26, police arrested Donald Thomas, 44, of 166-01 Linden Blvd. in Jamaica. Thomas was also charged with murder in the second degree and remains in jail awaiting further proceedings May 17, said Mary de Bourbon, a spokeswoman for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

Thomas is an ex-convict who served time for his second felony conviction for drug dealing, the Queens DA’s office said.

Witnesses said the cab swerved back and forth as it traveled west down 102nd Avenue toward the Van Wyck service road, banging into parked cars with its rear passenger door hanging open. Gunshots sounded toward the end of the car’s reckless trek down the street.

Neighbors speculated the attacker had jumped into the front seat to stop the car after shooting the driver. The cab came to rest behind a truck as if it had been parked.

Lal was the first victim in a rash of violence against livery cab drivers in the last few weeks. Less than 36 hours after his death, Jose Gutierrez was stabbed to death while driving a livery cab in the Bronx, police said.

Police arrested Fidel Genoa, Rafael Cappellan, Dencel Vasquez and Alfonso Sanchez and are seeking a fifth suspect, Robin Valentine, in the death of the Bronx driver.

On the following day, April 23, a third driver was attacked at 59-09 Norman St. in Ridgewood but only sustained minor injuries. The driver’s name was not released and no arrests had been made by press time.

On May 9, a woman driver, Andeliva Brown, was murdered in the Bronx. Police arrested her ex-boyfriend, Ferman Pena and the man he allegedly hired to kill her, Erlin Jose Abreu Guzman.

There was no indication that the attacks were related.

Lal’s slaying was the first cab-driver murder since new safety measures were implemented in 2000. After nine livery drivers were killed in the first four months of last year the City Council allocated $5 million for bullet-proof partitions or security cameras to be installed in every livery cab.

Lal’s cab had a bullet-proof partition, but the window was open at the time of the shooting.

Reach reporter Betsy Scheinbart by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 138.

Posted 7:06 pm, October 10, 2011
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