NYC cabbie shot himself after railing at politicians
New York – A livery cab driver who shot himself to death outside New York’s City Hall on Monday had posted on Facebook hours earlier that politicians had destroyed “a once thriving industry” and driven him to financial ruin.
Douglas Schifter, 61, drove up to the east gate of City Hall on Monday morning and shot himself in the head while sitting in his car, police said. He died at the scene. No one else was injured.
In his Facebook posting, and in previous columns in the industry newsletter Black Car News, Schifter had decried the transformation of New York City’s taxi industry in recent years.
Major changes include the introduction of ride hailing services like Uber and Lyft, which now outnumber the city’s iconic yellow cabs, an expansion of taxi service outside of Manhattan, and a proliferation of the number of drivers.
“Due to the huge numbers of cars available with desperate drivers trying to feed their families they squeeze rates to below operating costs and force professionals like me out of business,” Schifter wrote. “They count their money and we are driven down into the streets we drive becoming homeless and hungry. I will not be a slave working for chump change. I would rather be dead.”
Taxi and Limousine records show that Schifter had driven livery cabs, black cars and limousines since the early 1980s.
Schifter shot himself a few paces from one of the main security checkpoints for people entering City Hall.
Neil Weiss, the editor of Black Car News, said Schifter had struggled financially and was living with extended family in Pennsylvania.
“There’s been a lot of changes in the transportation industry in New York City over the past bunch of years and not for the better,” said Weiss, who said he last communicated with Schifter about a week ago. “I was hoping he was getting things together.”
Not all of Schifter’s social media posts were about the taxi industry.
He posted on Facebook last week about “the realization of an incredible psychic gift” that was “enabling knowledge to come to me that tells me things are so with a palpable feeling that tells me this is truth.”
He also posted that he believed America is “under attack by Russia.”
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