Group seeks hate crime investigation for cab driver shooting

PITTSBURGH (AP) – The FBI is reviewing the shooting of a Pittsburgh cab driver after a Muslim civil rights group asked the Justice Department to determine if it was a hate crime.

Authorities said the 38-year-old Muslim taxi driver was shot in the back on Thanksgiving in the city’s Hazelwood section. The Moroccan immigrant, who hasn’t been identified, was hospitalized in stable condition.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations said the shooter asked the driver about his background and if he was from Pakistan. The group said the man asked about the Islamic State group and satirized the Prophet Muhammad.

When the driver arrived at the passenger’s house, the man said he forgot his wallet and went inside to get it, the group said. He came back out with a rifle and fired shots at the taxi as the cab driver sped away. Police said the cab driver traveled a few more blocks before flagging down someone to call for help.

“I (made) a fast decision to leave and drove my taxi away because I felt he was going to do something,” the driver told The Pittsburgh-Post Gazette. “There is danger. He would shoot me or something. I felt like he had the intention to kill me.”

The driver said he has been driving with the taxi service for a month and the car was equipped with a video recorder. Police haven’t said if they’ve reviewed any video.

A spokesman with the FBI’s Pittsburgh branch said investigators are reviewing the shooting the same way they review crimes that appear to be racially motivated. Pittsburgh police haven’t determined whether the incident was motivated by the driver’s race or religion and are still searching for the shooter.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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