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A Winnipeg cab driver was killed early Thursday, after being attacked while either inside or near his Duffy's Taxi vehicle on Burrows Avenue.
The incident marks Winnipeg's eighth homicide of 2020.
City police responded to the scene at about 5:25 a.m., after the driver activated his vehicle's distress signal. Paramedics were also called to help the seriously injured man — identified by a family member as Balvir Toor — who was rushed to hospital in critical condition but died of his injuries.
Toor, a married father of three children, was a loving husband and father, the victim's brother-in-law said.
"It's a very bad situation for our family. They will never see him," Satpreet Singh Bhangu told the Free Press. "He was a very nice guy, very helpful. He was a cool guy, a peaceful guy. He never got angry with anyone his whole life.
"He's got so many friends. He was a very good father."
Investigators shared few details of the fatal assault with Toor's family, he said.
"They did not tell us anything. The police told us to go to the Health (Sciences) Centre and they told us my relative was dead. They did not tell us anything about whether he was shot or what. They have not given us anything about the crime — just that he was dead. Everyone has been crying all day."
More than 10 hours after the initial call for help, the cab was still parked at an angle in the westbound lane of Burrows Avenue, about 100 metres from McGregor Street, with both the driver and passenger doors open and the rooftop distress light still flashing.
Police kept a section of Burrows closed to traffic in both directions until well into the evening.
Late Thursday, a friend praised Toor for his affable personality, honesty and worth ethic.
"It is a big tragedy, for sure," said Manjot Singh Kang, a part-time Duffy's Taxi driver who also works as a health-care assistant at a city hospital.
"It's just so shocking; the community is really in shock that his has happened. We've all been talking that things have gotten really bad for cab drivers. We are always at the risk of incident and this is not the first time," he said.
"There have been many attacks on drivers. But this level of violence, to my knowledge, is a first time."
Toor, believed to be 45, arrived from India about 10 years ago. He owned the cab and worked many hours supporting his family, which resides in the northwest corner of Winnipeg.
"He was a good man. He was really friendly, always waving to me and being very kind whenever we met," said Kang, who relayed a story about the victim that was shared recently on social media.
Toor picked up a woman and child, drove them to Children's Hospital, collected his fare and left the area. He later received a call from dispatch the woman went to retrieve a medical card while at the triage desk, but could not find her wallet.
"She called the Duffy's company and they called the driver. He went into his back seat and found the wallet (which contained hundreds of dollars) and came all the way back to the hospital to return it... They appreciated his integrity and his honesty, and said that he was a very good gentleman," Kang said.
Duffy's said it is co-operating with police during the investigation.
"As of now, we don’t have many details related to this incident. We have been providing whatever information we have related to this taxi and the driver to Winnipeg police," the company said in a statement. "We contacted the family of this driver and assured assistance wherever we can."
The fatal incident occurred in the area of Strathcona and William Whyte schools, but neither was forced to go into a hold-and-secure protocol, a Winnipeg School Division official said.
The homicide unit is investigating, and anyone with information is asked to call 204-986-6508 or Crime Stoppers at 204-786-TIPS (8477).
Assistant sports editor
Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).
Updated on Thursday, March 19, 2020 at 7:32 PM CDT: Fixes typo.
8:23 PM: Fixes typo
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