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Short fare taxi refusal blamed in death of Muzik nightclub shooting victim

WATCH ABOVE: Reports say a friend of Muzik shooting victm Ariela Navarro Fenoy claims she would still be alive had they not been refused a short ride by a number of taxi drivers. It is illegal for drivers to deny a taxi ride based on distance but in the last year and a half 82 have been charged for doing just that. Caryn Lieberman reports.

TORONTO – The best friend of a 26-year-old Toronto woman killed during the deadly Muzik nightclub shooting believes she would have lived if it were not for the taxi drivers who refused to pick them up because their fare was too low.

Franca Abate told the Toronto Star Ariela Navarro-Fenoy was fatally shot after around 10 taxis declined to give them a ride on Dufferin St. as they rushed to vacate the chaotic scene.

Abate said she and Navarro-Fenoy, both roommates who lived near Bathurst St. and Lake Shore Blvd., then attempted to head towards a friend’s car when they encountered a group of men arguing and a round of gunfire erupted.

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READ MORE: Police identify victims in deadly Muzik nightclub shooting

Navarro-Fenoy was fatally shot as they both tried to get away, Abate told the newspaper.

“I am deeply concerned about a published report that one of the shooting victims, Arelia Navarro-Fenoy and her friends, who were trying to get home as gunfire broke out, were refused a taxi ride by taxi drivers, because the trip would be an $8 fare,” said City Councillor Jim Karygiannis, who has been vocal against UberX drivers, in a statement on Friday.

“In my view, taxi drivers have a responsibility to pick up customers and take them to their destinations, regardless of the cost the taxi fare. This is not an Uber versus the taxi industry matter. This is about adhering to laws, rules and regulations – anyone who breaks them, in my opinion, should be charged.”

Duvel Hibbert, 23, was also killed at a separate shooting scene while attending the OVO Fest after-party on Toronto’s Exhibition grounds in the early morning hours of Aug. 4.

Hibbert was pronounced dead inside the nightclub’s outdoor patio area while Navarro-Fenoy was shot north of the Dufferin Gates. She later died in hospital from her injuries. Three others were injured in the shooting.

Muzik nightclub issued a statement this afternoon saying its doors will be closed for the weekend.

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“It’s only been a few days since the tragic incident at Muzik shocked us all. We continue to struggle with the horror of Tuesday morning,” it stated.

“We are focusing all of our resources on assisting the Police with their active criminal investigations. We want these criminals to be brought to justice.”

Muzik did not say when the club will be open to the public but continued to urge anyone with information to come forward to police.

READ MORE: Industry insiders admit problem with taxi drivers refusing short fares

Taxi cabs refusing short fares have been a common complaint in the city in recent years.

City bylaws stipulate taxis cannot turn down a fare because the distance is too short.

VIDEO: Cabbies refusing short fares is an ‘epidemic’

Chapter 545 of the Toronto Municipal Code says taxi drivers can only refuse someone a ride if that person:

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  1. Owes such owner or driver for a previous fare or service;
  2. Upon being requested by such owner or driver, refuses to disclose his or her final destination before or immediately after entering the taxicab;
  3. Asks to be driven to a remote place in circumstances which such owner or driver reasonably believes to be unsafe;
  4. Is unduly obnoxious or abusive;
  5. Smokes in the taxicab; or
  6. Fails or refuses to make an advance payment when requested by the driver in accordance with § 545-150S

READ MORE: Crimestoppers tweets Drake to get help with controlling gun violence in Toronto

Cabbies caught turning down short fares face a $150 fine. In 2014, the City of Toronto laid 150 such charges.

City officials say there are steps people can take if faced with a similar situation such as taking down the vehicle number usually located on the sides and rear of the car, notify the cab company, and City of Toronto Bylaw Enforcement or 311.

With files from Erica Vella and Adam Miller

 

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