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Uber disarmed drivers end up dead at times

Assuming they follow company policy, Uber drivers are unarmed. As you might expect, unarmed Americans catering to the general public at all hours of the day and night in random locations are often targets of violence. Here’s a recent story from the Chicago Tribune:

A teenage girl from Chicago who has been charged with killing an Uber driver randomly attacked the man with a knife and a machete that she had just stolen from Walmart, authorities say.

Eliza Wasni, 16, kept her eyes mostly to the floor Wednesday afternoon as a Cook County judge ordered her held without bail in the killing of Grant Nelson of Wilmette — an act prosecutors called “heinous” and “not provoked in any manner.”

Prosecutors said Nelson, 34, had picked up Wasni early Tuesday a few blocks from a Walmart in Skokie and, minutes into the ride, near the corner of Touhy and Lincoln avenues in Lincolnwood, she began stabbing him.

He managed to pull over his Hyundai and run to a nearby condominium building lobby, where he pushed buzzers and yelled, “Help me, help me. I’m going to die,” Assistant State’s Attorney Michelle Cunningham said.

The dead driver’s family has filed a lawsuit. Not against Uber, whose rolling “gun free zone” policy left Mr. Wasni defenseless against edged weapons. Against Walmart.

Apparently, Walmart shouldn’t have let the woman steal the machete and knife at oh-dark-thirty that she used to perform thoracic surgery on a Mr. Uber as he drove his car.

We just covered Walmart’s new signage announcing that they now “apprehend” shoplifters. The old signage warned that Wally would prosecute thieves.

Apprehension failed for the 16-year-old woman who literally walked right past two Walmart employees or security people on her way out carrying the “weapons” at 3am, according to the latest story in Chicago Tribune.

The family of an Uber driver who was hacked to death while on the job has sued Walmart, where authorities said the driver’s teenage attacker stole weapons — a machete and knife — moments before the killing.

Grant Nelson’s family filed suit in Cook County court Monday against Walmart and two companies that handled security for the retailer’s Skokie store. Authorities allege that 16-year-old Eliza Wasni stole the machete and the knife from a Walmart about 3 a.m. May 30, then got into Nelson’s car and hacked and stabbed him to death moments into the ride.

The wrongful death lawsuit said Walmart’s security contractors were negligent because they failed to stop Wasni, question her or ask her to show a receipt as she allegedly left the store carrying the weapons.

According to the lawsuit, two Walmart employees or contractors were standing immediately in front of the door as Wasni exited, passing within feet of them.

…”We feel strongly that Walmart had an obligation to stop this young person at 3 in the morning who had been walking around in their store with an 18-inch machete and 5-inch hunting knife and didn’t purchase them and … no one did anything to stop her,” Bingle said.

If only Mr. Nelson had done something to stop her, ballistically speaking. I guess it proves that several hundred foot pounds of cure is worth an ounce of prevention. It should have been a defensive gun use.

Same goes for other inevitable attacks on Uber drivers — until and unless the company changes its policies, “allowing” drivers to exercise their natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms.

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  1. Yes I think everyone that lives in a nation with European style right hand drive cars SHOULD have guns. The EU is kind of a sh*hole thanks to Momma Merkel. 😛

    • British style RHDs?
      Which is why we have RHD in India and Australia.
      Not sure how Japan ended up that way.

      • Because Japan and the Brits were super close trade partners during their period of early industrialization. So they imported a lot of cars, as well as tooling, factories, etc to make cars (and all sorts of other manufactured goods) from the Brits. For many years there were a lot of obscure standards and such used only in the UK and Japan, though now Japan has mostly set up their own standards.

    • I’m guessing you’ve never been to the Europe? The only countries/lands that have RHD is the UK. Everyone else drives on the “normal” side of the road.


  2. Good old “Skompton”, I grew up in that shithole. Cook County Walmarts seem to be a nexus of violence…

    • When I grew up in Wilmette, Skokie was the epitome of a quiet suburban neighborhood where the greatest danger w as from the grey haired old ladies who couldn’t see over the top of the steering wheels of their Cadillacs, and the second greatest danger was boredom because there was nothing to do all summer long. But the pizza from Gulf Pizza was good.

      • It got shitty. My brother was the superintendent at one of the section 8 apartments and I lived there with him for a while. One night I heard two dudes having a conversation right outside of my window (you need to walk into the bushes to be outside of the window,) so I took out my SKS, held down the bolt hold open and let the carrier loudly clack into place. They decided to go elsewhere.

    • Trump needs to work faster, and stay focused, clean up the mess called “heartland”

  3. Isn’t it quite difficult to shoot someone who is stabbing you in the back, from behind a barrier (car seat)? Would a gun have made any difference in the car?

    Sorry, I consider people traveling in, or driving a “ride share” to be stupid people, in stupid places, doing stupid things. YMMV

    • Yeah a gun wouldn’t prevent the attack. But maybe in this case he could have shot her before the damage became fatal or taken her with him which would be a cautionary tale Uber drivers aren’t easy prey.

      • “But maybe in this case he could have shot her before the damage became fatal or taken her with him which would be a cautionary tale Uber drivers aren’t easy prey.”

        Yeah, there’s that. Good thought.

    • I dunno about you, but I can point a gun over my shoulder and hit something that is literally not more than 2 feet behind me and the size of a person.

      • ” I can point a gun over my shoulder and hit something that is literally not more than 2 feet behind me and the size of a person.”

        Even after being stabbed a time or two? Even if the attacker is completely behind you?

        • Try this: reach your dominant arm across your chest and point your finger like you were grasping a firearm in a shoulder holster under the armpit. Lean forward, while looking over the shoulder of the same side as your pointed finger. Pull your trigger finger over and over. Your seat most likely won’t stop bullets from a sidearm at that range. As for the being stabbed part, it would probably depend on where you were stabbed.

          • Interesting observation.

            Agree that someone with a shoulder holster might be able to fight back. Still thinking that after being stabbed, one’s attention is entirely focused on the pain of the stabbing, disrupting the OODA loop, perhaps fatally.

            Don’t most people grip the automobile steering wheel with the dominate hand? Driving one-handed? More of a complication?

            Good thought that a shoulder holster would be a useful carry configuration, just not sure it is viable in the event. Exiting the vehicle (as someone suggested), and firing into the cabin might work, also.

            Always some new tactical consideration to work through. Thanks for the idea.

        • “Don’t most people grip the automobile steering wheel with the dominate hand?”

          I don’t. Pretty much left takes care of most of the driving. ‘Spirited’ driving is always a two-handed endeavor.

          Then again, while driving my right hand is usually twiddling with radios or whatnot…

      • The chances of you realizing that you are being stabbed, drawing and firing before being mortally wounded are about zero. You would do much, much better to stomp on the brakes and jump out of the car- it would probably take far less time, skill, and luck. I suspect that’s what he did but it was still too late.

        If someone with a knife behind you gets the drop on you, you’re about finished. Your neck is right there.

        • You’re assuming a 16 year old girl knows where to stab you to cause instant incapacitation and that the chances of responding after being stabbed are zero. There is a pretty common defensive idea that if you are wounded, keep fighting as long as you’re able, you just might win.

          But yes, getting out of the car and away from the knife is probably the best idea.

    • If I were ever to work for Uber or similar, I would be armed, and it would not be at 3 AM in Chicago.

      • “If I were ever to work for Uber or similar, I would be armed, …”

        If I were armed (still paralyzed about which gun to buy), and driving for a ride share company, wouldn’t that put me in the category of stupid people in stupid places winning stupid prizes while armed?

        Not sure being armed really reduces an unnecessarily risky pursuit of income.

        • > still paralyzed about which gun to buy

          What are your requirements? Preferences? You’ve come to the right place for help/advice. Take advantage of that!

          • “What are your requirements? Preferences? You’ve come to the right place for help/advice.”

            Oh so many considerations. Majority are about making a mistake in deployment in an emergency. Have had range sessions with eleven different handguns. There is much to like about the GI .50 1911, but seems to sing “overkill”, literally. Understanding the laws, how to carry, aftermath, threat situations, being prepared to do something other than marvel at all the equipment and the people who are proficient. Probably boils down to deciding if a gun is a fascinating piece of mechanical development, or a usable tool of defense (first reaction is to always flee a confrontation). This has been going on for two years.

        • For a first defensive gun, a Ruger LCR in .357 is a solid choice.

          Long, heavy yet smooth trigger pretty much eliminates negligent discharges…

          • “For a first defensive gun, a Ruger LCR in .357 is a solid choice.

            Long, heavy yet smooth trigger pretty much eliminates negligent discharges…”

            I did shoot a snubbie revolver (two, actually), .38 spl. the grips are so small that the back of the trigger guard banged into my fingers. Got painful quickly. Didn’t see much point in trying .357. Also tried a full size .38 revolver. Again, the grip was so small it would move in my hand, requiring re-acquisition of the grip after each round fired. The 13lb trigger pull did not help me keep the sights (if there were any) aligned. The bullet capacity of a revolver is troubling. The GI .50 1911 has seven rounds in the mag, which is better. Just haven’t found anyone who has such a gun to try.

            All the non-shooting considerations (complications?) surrounding carrying a firearm are adding to the difficulty of choosing a pistol, or revolver (but I think revolvers are pretty much out). If I can’t work through the brain work of carrying a gun, buying one seems not such a good idea.

            Thanks for the suggestion.

      • “Do you consider cabs stupid places/people/times too?”

        Indeed, I do. And metro buses (used to live in a city that had local bus service). And I walk through airports, rather than ride trams with dozens of strangers (TSA does not provide any level of comfort about security).

      • One of the many benefits of the Uber concept is that it is strictly a credit card business, no cash transactions. The most cash I ever had on board, other than my pocket change for lunch, was when one rider tipped me $20.

        You also never pick up random riders, every trip has to be by the Uber app and you know who they are.

        Taxi drivers in every urban area are at high risk for robbery and murder because they pick up strangers every time and are an almost entirely cash business. That’s why cab drivers are bailing from those companies in droves and driving their own cars for Uber instead.

    • I think so. As soon as he got out of his car, he could have had his hand gun trained on the assailant and initiated responsive fire instead of running to a nearby apartment and initiated button pushing while yelling, “help me, help me, I’m going to die.” Those actions would have surely gone a long way to sparing his life and would have definitely got everyone’s attention.

      That being said, the family’s lawyer should definitely be going after UBER. It is a cruel and dangerous policy to not allow their drivers to carry responsibly in order to protect themselves. This kind of liberal mind set needs to be aggresively attacked and eliminated. NOBODY HAS THE RIGHT TO TELL ANOTHER PERSON THAT THEY DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT TO PROTECT AND DEFEND THEMSELVES.

      • Agree. If the victim had been able to leave the car, then turn and shoot, things might be different. Still thinking that when you are focused on your driving, moving along, and suddenly feel a blade into your back, your sensory system will overload you ability to respond with a firearm, not to mention the problem of actually getting on target to someone directly behind you making repeated punctures into your torso.

  4. Maybe ask the chick to leave the machete in the trunk? This is a freak incident but maybe Uber drivers should think about putting plexiglass dividers between occupant and drivers seat like some cabs do.

  5. This attack occurred within about a block of the business I work for. It was quite a scene.

    Carry, carry, carry.

  6. If I am driving a vehicle and one of my passengers starts attacking me, I will immediately drive my car into the nearest HEAVY object such as a large tree, parked car, large rock, bridge pillar, etc.

    If no such HEAVY object is available (which is quite possible), I will crank the steering wheel as hard as possible and hope that my car rolls over. If my car has an “active” feature (such as “active suspension”) which prevents me from rolling my car, I will keep cranking the steering wheel back and forth until I can crash.

    • Good point. It would be difficult to effectively stab someone while constantly being slammed from door to door.

    • I was waiting for this, it’s hard to stab someone from the backseat with a seatbelt on, and hard to do much of anything without one on while the driver is actively trying to kill the occupants of the vehicle with his driving.

  7. Waiting for The_Resistance to show up and claim machete attacks don’t happen in the rest of the world…

  8. Most of the Wal-Mart stores I have been in around my area have no armed security guards so how could Walmart have stopped her from just walking out when she had deadly weapons in her hand. In our Wal-Mart’s the knives are all locked up and you have to pay for them before you walk away with them. Of course you could ask to see one and then just walk away with it in your hand because the clerk certainly is not going to attack you when you have a deadly weapon in your hand. I think this case, if Wal-Mart loses, just might result in Wal-Mart not selling anymore knives. In my area they have quite selling guns altogether in stores near big cities and even some small cities.

    I think the idea that this could have been prevented by being armed is only ignorant thinking. It would have made no difference because 1. The driver was not protected by a barrier between him and the passenger and 2. he also would have had no idea the attack was even coming. Chances are she was smart enough to have the weapons concealed otherwise she would have feared the driver would have not even let her in the car, at least not if he had any common sense.

    • Preventable? Probably not.

      However, the fact that he was alive when he exited the vehicle and that he managed to get to a nearby apartment tells us that he would have had plenty of time to exit his vehicle, turn around, and return force on his fare.

    • How about being armed AND in a ready mental state? Why would anyone pick up a complete stranger and relax? Being armed adds to the equation the ability to stop the attack quickly.

    • Sometimes it just can’t be a defensive gun use (or a defensive anything use). This was probably one of those times. Getting ambushed really sucks.

      Regardless, we can still point out that everyone has the right to at least try to defend themselves. And that includes carrying the best tools for the job, wherever, whenever.

      • That’s probably the best explanation; would carrying have done anything? Probably not, but it would have at least been an option.

  9. When I drove (briefly) for Uber I was aware of the no-gun policy. So I carried my LC9s in the console. Off body not optimal, but it was in the car. Always. The Uber policy states explicitly that drivers and passengers may not carry firearms. In the time I was driving I never had anyone ask me if I had a gun and I definitely NEVER asked any rider in they were armed. If they had a CCW I would have been glad to have them aboard, If they were armed without a CCW they would have lied. What’s the point?

    Anyway, no one ever asked me (and Uber had inspectors around Vegas who would book rides just to see how you were operating), no one asked to inspect me or my car for weapons, and I never asked a rider. I’m pretty sure that in the event I had ever needed my little Ruger I would have given not much of a damn if Uber didn’t like it or me afterwards. I was driving around at 3:00 in the morning in a Chrysler 300. I didn’t worry about being robbed but I damn sure worried about carjackers.

  10. So, according to the driver’s family, I guess it would have all been OK if the girl had PAID for those things?

    Honestly, it should never have happened. Situational awareness was likely seriously absent here.

    • BINGO! Hit the nail on the head. O what if she had walked in the store with the weapons and then walked out again?
      The theft of the weapons, which she could have legally purchased, was not the cause or even “A” cause of the attack. Stoopid lawsuit. And that’s my legal opinion. I have little doubt that with lots of publicity of a bad event the lawyer hopes he can wrangle a settlement out of WalMart. I guess he hasn’t heard–WalMart does NOT settle, even when it is at fault. My old firm did work for them out on the west coast, and we eventually dropped them because it was so frustrating to be unable to settle any case, even when it was the proper course of action or where settling would cost them a fraction of what it would cost to take the case to trail I remember once that WalMart got hit for major sanctions when it forced its attorney to appeal a $100 verdict against the company (not my firm, thank goodness).

      • Mark – I did 12 years as an insurance investigator/adjuster for TPA’s which were self-insured. When I first broke into the business my boss had a simple rule – If the insured owed it, pay it for what both sides agreed to be an equitable settlement. Unless the insured directed me to pay a claim it didn’t owe to avoid unwanted publicity, I held to the laws on liability. It was downright fun to have a lawyer call me with a settlement demand only to have me respond with, “What’s your theory of liability, counselor?” There would be a period of silence and then a “Let me get back to you on that….. ” Of course, he never did and the claim died.

        Sometimes I’d get claims for a “trip and fall” and deny the claim if the claimant was obviously oblivious to the obvious, such as a bright yellow parking block in a lot. I’d tell the attorney that his client had violated the “the Three-year-Old Rule” and was thus barred recovery. When he asked what the rule was, I’d tell him that it was when a three-year-old tripped over something obvious and when he went to his mother crying about his skinned knee, she says to him, “I’m sorry you’re hurt but you have to watch where you’re going and pick up your feet.”

        The best thing an attorney ever said to me? “Why do I get the feeling that you’d rather negotiate this while you’re standing on my chest?”

  11. I only know two people who drive for Uber. Neither one carries. One is from Europe, so there is that, but the other really should know better.

  12. In this case the passenger attacked the driver
    There have been plenty of cases of Uber drivers raping passengers
    So it goes both ways
    I like the idea of a plexiglass barrier with a drawer
    And state inspections and background checks and clearly displaying the drivers name and license
    Oh wait, that would be a taxi

    • The Uber app works both ways not so much for protection, but detection. There is ZERO anonymity. Uber knows all the personal information of the person calling for the ride and they know exactly which Uber driver accepted the trip. You have to be a special kind of stupid to do a crime under those circumstances and believe you will not be caught.

      Unfortunately there are in fact far too many extra special stupid people in the world, that’s why I always had a pistol in the car.

  13. The other strategy for keeping yourself safe while driving for Uber is picking better hours. 3:00 am is much more risky than 3:00 pm and there’s nothing requiring you to drive it.

  14. ”We feel strongly that Walmart has more money than this young person, so yeah, we’re gonna sue them,” Bingle said.

    People like this girl terrify me. She is like the singular cockroaches you occasionally see during the day in industrial buildings. Seeing one during the day means there are many many more in the walls, just waiting for the right conditions.

    Like those roaches, people of this ilk are just waiting for the veil of civilized society to be peeled back. You see them in momentary instances like riots & looting, localized violence, like those singular cockroaches, because of some localized conditions where the rule of law is suspended. Imagine if the veil were pulled back in a larger way, and that people believed it was permanent. Then, you would really see the garbage humanity is predominately made of.

    • ”We feel strongly that Walmart has more money than this young person, so yeah, we’re gonna sue them,” Bingle said.

      That and there’s a strong possibility that Walmart will settle out of court for 30%.

    • There’s not a personal injury lawyer alive who isn’t familiar with the “deep pockets theory”. Whenever possible, sue the entity with the “deep pockets”, no matter how peripheral their involvement. They are much more likely to make an offer of settlement to mitigate the cost of litigation.

  15. Fair recitation of the events(except calling the 16year old a “woman”).Where it’s at is not known for being a Mecca of violence/gangs. I kinda’ doubt the deceased driver had his “spideysense” engaged. RIP…

  16. When I was in college I worked for Walmart. We had several things we had to KNOW before we could stop someone for theft, otherwise we would be fired on the spot for risking a lawsuit. One was we had to observe the person take the merchandise and observe that they never put it down before exiting. This did not include asking to see a receipt, but not showing a receipt is not evidence of theft.

    I never stop and show my receipt and never will. I don’t ask Walmart for their bank statement to prove they didn’t over charge me.

    • The difference between apprehending a shoplifter and kidnapping is probable cause. And Wally World guys don’t get indemnified for making an honest mistake in that regard.

      I’ll stop to show a receipt when I feel like it, especially if I’ve got a big bag of dog food under the cart. But if I don’t feel like it (if I’ve waited on line for 15 minutes because they’re understaffed), I won’t… and some little old lady tottering after me yelling isn’t going to change that.

  17. I’m guessing the next family to sue wal mart will be the next of kin to the loss prevention officer that tries, unarmed, to stop some whacko who just grabbed a machete.

  18. “The dead driver’s family has filed a lawsuit. Not against Uber, whose rolling “gun free zone” policy left Mr. Wasni defenseless against edged weapons. Against Walmart.”

    I had to reread this. Shouldnt it be Mr. Nelson?

  19. Why is there a need for 18-inch machetes in the frozen winterland called Cook County, Illinois?
    Assume the Uber driver was not molesting/raping the young teen girl?
    No guns policy or not, I believe a taser, and/or bear-spray would be within reach and ready to fire.

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