Indo-Canadian Cabbie Killed By Passenger In Ontario

London taxi driver Vijay Bhatia was killed recently when he was attacked by a passenger in the parking lot of a convenience store in south London, Ontario. A 23-year-old man is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Bhatia.

TORONTO – An Indo-Canadian taxi driver from London, Ontario was beaten to death by a customer. He was described by colleagues and the owner of Blue and White taxi as a grandfather and long-time cabbie,.

Vijay Bhatia, 64, died when he was pulled from his cab on weekend of April 30 and attacked in the parking lot of the Mac’s convenience store at 925 Wonderland Rd. South, London police said, reported London Free Press.

“I am so upset. He was in the business a long, long time,” said Jason Kukurudziak, owner of Blue and White taxi. “He was a grandfather. It is tragic, just tragic. It is senseless.”

Kukurudziak said Bhatia was well known among the city’s cab drivers.

“He was very friendly, very involved in the industry.”

London police said officers responding to a reported assault found Bhatia in the parking lot with no vital signs. He was taken to hospital where he died.

Bhatia was assaulted by one of two passengers in his cab, police said. Police took the passengers into custody.

Cody Perkin, 23, of London, is charged with second-degree murder. He is also charged with assault and uttering threats in relation to another person, who sustained minor injuries not requiring medical treatment, police said. Perkin has been remanded into custody.

Bhatia’s death is believed to be the first of a London cab driver on the job since January 1985, when Joseph Pasztor was shot. Two men and a youth faced murder charges.

In 1979, Greg McCart, son of Ontario Superior Court Justice John McCart, was bludgeoned to death by two men who were later convicted.

Bhatia’s slaying is likely to raise questions about city council’s February decision not to require Uber drivers to have cameras.

Kukurudziak downloaded footage from the video camera in Bhatia’s taxi and provided it to investigators.

The video showed two passengers in the backseat, Kukurudziak said. Bhatia had taken them to a location in Oakridge and then to Mac’s, Kukurudziak said.

“The guy got into Vijay’s face, I don’t know why.”

Serenity Lane lives across the street in an apartment at 924 Wonderland Rd. and was looking out her window when she saw Bhatia being attacked.

“I watched a guy get pulled out of his cab and (beaten) to death.”

Lane, who has lived in the apartment for about a year, said she was about to go to the convenience store when she looked out.

“It was horrible, I feel disgusted by what I saw.”

Taylor Neilson, a friend of Lane’s, was in the apartment with her when the attack occurred.

“I was on the couch and I heard something. I said, ‘What’s going on?’ I could hear the screaming even though the windows were closed,” she said.

“When this happened, it is a shock. It is so close,” she said, adding Westmount is usually a peaceful, quiet neighbourhood.

Lane said she and Neilson watched as the man who attacked Bhatia ran away and entered the apartment building at 924 Wonderland.

“We saw him run across the street. A lot of people saw him,” Lane said.

Leila Kadoruy has worked at the Baron, a hair salon next to the Mac’s, for 12 years.

She said she wasn’t surprised to see police caution tape and a cruiser at the strip mall when she arrived for work Saturday morning.

“I see a lot of things like this going on here,” Kadoruy said. “People have been attacked, the store has been robbed.”

She said she has been afraid to work late at the salon and feared for her safety when she did.

“I was scared. I won’t work at night anymore. I don’t feel secure.”

Standing Saturday outside Mac’s, Melissa Deadman said she believes the neighbourhood is not that bad.

“I am very surprised, I come here a lot. I don’t see trouble here. I think this neighbourhood is safe,” said Deadman, who has been living in the neighbourhood for about three years.

“You can find violent people anywhere.”

Aman Deep has owned the Mac’s for about three years. He said the clerk at the store didn’t see the attack. A London Transit driver who ran into the store told the clerk to call police, Deep said.

“My guy told me someone was hurt in the parking lot. He was working inside and he did not see anything.

“I am surprised. I was robbed last year but mostly this is a good area,” Deep said.

London police said the investigation into Bhatia’s death continues.

Courtesy London Free Press

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