Taxi driver accused of shooting at customer with assault rifle

dprice@thestate.comJuly 24, 2013 

Vincent Laben

COLUMBIA POLICE DEPARTMENT — Provided

— A Columbia taxi driver has been accused of shooting at a passenger who didn’t have cash on hand with an assault rifle, according to the Columbia Police Department.

Vincent Laben, 33, is charged with attempted murder, possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime and unlawful carrying of a weapon. He’s accused of chasing after a woman at the Clarion Hotel downtown and firing two rounds during an altercation over cab fare.

The woman told police that Laben picked her up at the Columbia Metropolitan Airport and drove her to the Gervais Street hotel about 11 p.m. Tuesday night. Before arriving, the woman told Laben she did not have any cash with which to pay, but would get money out of an ATM.

When they got to the hotel, the woman told police, she said she would get cash out from the hotel’s ATM. Laben told the woman he didn’t trust her and said that she needed to pay him.

The man grabbed her phone from her hand. In turn, the woman grabbed the man’s shirt collar and yelled for help. Several people in the area came to the woman’s aid.

Eventually, the woman let go of Laben’s collar. Then, she told police that he said “I have something for you” before pulling out the gun and chasing after her. He’s accused of firing two rounds at the woman as she ran to the back of the hotel’s parking lot. No one was injured, but one of the bullets struck the doorframe to a first-floor room.

An off-duty police officer eating dinner across the street heard the gunshots and went to the hotel. He made the still-armed cab driver get on the ground and held the man until officers arrived.

Upon a search, police also found a hatchet in Laben’s cab.

When officers got to the scene, Laben complained of chest pains and was taken to the hospital. He was arrested after being released, and is being held at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center on $200,000 bond.

Rachael Myers Lowe contributed to this report

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