Operator of self-driving Uber vehicle that killed pedestrian was felon

Bree Burkitt and Ryan Randazzo, The Republic | azcentral.comPublished 9:02 p.m. MT March 19, 2018 | Updated 11:14 p.m. MT March 19, 2018

The operator behind the wheel of a self-driving Uber vehicle that hit and killed a 49-year-old woman in Tempe Sunday night had served almost four years in an Arizona prison in the early 2000s on an attempted armed robbery conviction.

A representative for Uber declined to comment on the conviction and the company's hiring policies, citing an active investigation.

Elaine Herzberg  was walking a bike across Mill Avenue outside the crosswalk near the Marquee Theatre at about 10 p.m. when she was hit, police said.

Police said the vehicle was in autonomous mode with an operator, who has been identified as 44-year-old Rafaela Vasquez, behind the wheel at the time of the crash. 

Tempe police spokesman Sgt. Ronald Elcock said impairment did not initially appear to be a factor for either Vasquez or Herzberg. He added it was not apparent that the vehicle attempted to slow down while it approached Herzberg.

Court records show Vasquez has a criminal record in Arizona under a different legal name. 

Records from the Arizona Department of Corrections show Vasquez served three years and 10 months in a state prison for convictions on attempted armed robbery and unsworn falsification. She was released from prison in 2005. 

The autonomous vehicles have been used to shuttle Uber passengers in parts of Tempe and Scottsdale. Riders who are picked up by a self-driving cars would likely recognize them from the presence of the exterior sensors. 

The San Francisco-based company recently came under fire for hiring felons. The Colorado Public Utilities Commission company fined Uber's parent company $8.9 million in November 2017 after an investigation determined the ride-hailing service had hired nearly 60 drivers with previous felony convictions.

Colorado state law prevents individuals with felony convictions, alcohol or drug-related driving offenses, unlawful sexual offenses and major traffic violations from working for rideshare companies.

Uber attributed the unlawful hirings to a "process area" inconsistent with Colorado's ridesharing regulations. The company said all drivers must undergo a third-party background screening "per Uber safety policies and Colorado state regulations."

Uber has more than 18,000 contract drivers and 1,000 employees in Arizona, with most staffers at the downtown Phoenix operations center.

Close to 300 people worked in the self-driving operations in Tempe as of November 2017.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 


Uber driver accused of following woman into home, sexually assaulting her

Updated: 7:09 PM CDT Mar 16, 2018

Nick Bohr   


An Uber driver is accused of sexually assaulting a woman he drove home from a bar in Milwaukee.

The woman said he picked her up on Old World Third Street and then followed her into her house.

At bar time, the 23-year-old woman knew she couldn't drive home because she'd had too much to drink and took an Uber.

Police said the 39-year-old Uber driver helped her to the door of her Bay View home and then followed her inside and sexually assaulted her twice.

"Whenever you're out, you need to have good judgment," said Katie Wilhelm, who uses Uber. "It's a difficult call to make because either way there's a risk. Like, you don't want to drive drunk, but you also don't want to put yourself in a situation where you could be really at risk of being hurt in a different way."

Uber records led police to the driver, who didn't answer his door when WISN 12 News tried to talk to him Friday afternoon.

Uber users say the case serves as a warning, and a reminder that revelers should make sure their intoxicated friends get home safe not just into a cab or an Uber.

"That's a big problem out here with the Uber situation ... a lot of times, people get drunk. They leave their friends. And they end up out here, in the river, or get taken advantage of," Uber user LaTangelia Johnson said.

Police arrested the driver, but WISN 12 News is not naming him because he hasn't been charged yet. Prosecutors are waiting for DNA test results.

Uber released a statement saying, "What's been reported is horrible and is not tolerated on the app. As soon as we became aware of this we removed the driver's access."


Seven More Women Join Uber Sexual-Assault Lawsuit

The class-action suit now includes nine total plaintiffs who say they were raped, assaulted, harassed, or kidnapped.


03.15.18 9:43 PM ET

“I thought this is what you wanted,” an Uber driver—while masturbating—allegedly told one of the seven new plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against the ride-hail giant on Thursday.

The women each say they were harassed, assaulted, kidnapped or raped by their Uber driver.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, first alleged in November 2017 that—because of its lax driver screening—the company is operating a system in which perpetrators maintain access to thousands of women to kidnap, sexually assault, and harass.

The initial suit included two plaintiffs, and the amended complaint was filed on Thursday, adding seven new plaintiffs to the case.

“Uber has done everything possible to continue using low-cost, woefully inadequate background checks on drivers and has failed to monitor drivers for any violent or inappropriate conduct after they are hired,” the lawsuit says. “Uber has created a system for bad actors to gain access to vulnerable victims.”

Attorney Jeanne Christensen,  who represents the plaintiffs, claims that Uber filed a motion after that suit to “force these women into confidential arbitration.”

“Today, in response, we have amended the complaint to address the arbitration issue and include the claims of another seven women that have dared to participate as named plaintiffs and speak out against Uber,” Christensen said. “Uber’s goal is to stop women from getting the justice they deserve through our court system.”

The complaint claims that “Uber is frantic to deny Jane Does and thousands of female victims their right to access our judicial system, as demonstrated by Uber’s recent shameful attempt to force this action into arbitration immediately.”Christensen claims that arbitration “would prevent the public from learning about the frequency and severity of rapes and sexual assaults by Uber drivers against innocent women.”

The class action suit seeks to include plaintiffs “who were transported by Uber drivers and were subject to rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, kidnapping, or other gender-motivated violence or harassment by their Uber driver in the last four years.”

The lawsuit alleges that Uber “has engaged in and continues to engage in unlawful, fraudulent and unfair practices that are substantially likely to mislead the public.”

Plaintiffs are seeking damages to be determined at jury trial and a permanent injunction to prevent repeated alleged irresponsibility in the future.

Thousands of women have been attacked by Uber drivers since the company was first launched in 2010, according to the lawsuit, including cases of “rape, sexual assault, physical violence and gender-motivated harassment.”

“As she fought her driver, he kept saying ‘I need one minute, I need to kiss you.’”

Jane Doe 1 says she was raped one October 2016 night in Miami by her Uber driver, who noticed she was “barely conscious” while riding home from a restaurant with her friend.

The driver, who was charged with a felony in Miami before that night, allegedly threw Doe 1 over his shoulder and carried her upstairs and into her bedroom. Her friend, who was upset and afraid, hid in the bathroom while the man raped Doe 1, the lawsuit claims.

The man was later charged and allegedly admitted to police that “he was wrong for what he did.” That case is still pending, according to the lawsuit. Uber refunded Doe’s receipt from the ride but never confirmed that the man was deactivated as a driver.

Jane Doe 2, who lives in Los Angeles, was drinking at a dinner with friends when she called a car. She fell asleep in the backseat of her Uber and awoke to her driver’s mouth on her vulva, the lawsuit claims.

He drove her home and raped her while she was “in and out of consciousness,” according to the complaint.

Jane Doe 3, a 26-year-old who lives in San Francisco, requested an Uber after a holiday party in December 2017. When she got home, the driver offered to help her into her apartment. Even though she said no, he followed her inside, pushing himself into the foyer, the lawsuit claims.

He “held her in a bear hug as he groped her and attempted to force himself on her,” the complaint states. As she fled, he followed her to her apartment door, where he groped her and put his hands up her dress, according to the suit.

“Doe 3 managed to punch him in the stomach hard enough that she was able to get into her apartment,” the lawsuit states.

The man’s name, date of birth and personal address match the name, date of birth and personal address of a man who is listed as a registered sex offender in Berkeley, California, according to the lawsuit.

Jane Doe 4, a 42-year-old woman in Des Moines, Iowa was in a ride home from a bar when the driver began “asking her strange questions.”

She looked away and then realized “he had his penis out.”

Doe 4 told him to stop, but he responded: “I thought this is what you wanted,” the lawsuit claims.

He then allegedly grabbed Doe 4’s knee and tried to kiss her. Doe 4 asked him to take her back to the bar because it was a “public area rather than her home,” the lawsuit states.

“At this, Howard removed his penis from his pants again, and began masturbating, even though Ms. Doe 4 kept protesting and threatened to call the police,” the lawsuit claims.

“Doe 4 was furious at the possibility [the driver] could do this again to more unsuspecting women, so she grabbed his phone, threw it on the ground away from him, and took the broken pieces into the bar,” the document alleges.

“She gave the broken phone pieces to the bartender, who called police,” according to the lawsuit.

The case is under investigation, and the driver was allegedly deactivated from the app.

Jane Doe 5, a 33-year-old, was out drinking with a friend in October 2016 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. When she got into the Uber, which should have been a 40-minute ride, she blacked out.

More than two hours later, the driver was trying to carry her unconscious body from the backseat of the vehicle, the suit says. When the woman’s boyfriend approached the odd scene, the driver pushed Doe 5 back into the car and drove off with her, according to the complaint.

The driver allegedly dropped her off one block away from her home—in an apparent attempt to avoid the woman’s boyfriend. Doe 5’s boyfriend took her home, and “she awoke the next morning with no recollection of the previous night,” the lawsuit states.

Uber allegedly responded to her complaints by telling her she would no longer be paired with this driver anymore but still hasn’t refunded her ride. That driver is still working for Uber, according to the lawsuit.

Doe 5 filed a police report, but the lawsuit claims “Uber has refused to cooperate with the investigation.”

In December 2017, 31-year-old Jane Doe 6 was trying to get home from a holiday party about 1 a.m. in West Hollywood, California. She took an Uber, drifting in and out of consciousness during the course of the ride, at one point vomiting on the side of the road. She awoke and found the Uber driver sexually assaulting her, the lawsuit claims. The driver dropped her off one block away from her house, according to the complaint. She filed a police report one week later. The driver was arrested on December 23, 2017 and charged with digital penetration and oral copulation, according to the lawsuit.

Jane Doe 7, a 21-year-old New Yorker, ordered an Uber Pool to take her home from dinner at about 1 a.m. When the car arrived at her home in Brooklyn, she tried to get out.

The driver allegedly said, “I need one minute,” got into the backseat, groped her and forcibly tried to kiss her, according to the lawsuit. As she fought him, he kept saying, “I need one minute, I need to kiss you.”

Doe 7 eventually grabbed her purse, hit him in the face, and fled the vehicle.

He allegedly yelled at her while she fumbled for her keys to get inside. Doe 7 filed a police report. Uber has not terminated its relationship with the driver, and he still drives for the company, according to the lawsuit.

Jane Doe 8, a 19-year-old in Ann Arbor, Michigan, said her Uber driver in August 2016 began asking her personal and inappropriate questions as soon as she got into the car.

Her bicycle was in the backseat, so she sat in the front.

“I heard private school girls are wild,” he allegedly said, asking if she had a boyfriend or had ever had sex.

Then, he “began rubbing Ms. Doe 8’s leg, beginning at her knee and reaching up her thigh,” according to the suit. She moved closer to the window, but the driver kept rubbing her arms and shoulders, the complaint alleges.

“She asked the driver to stop the vehicle so that she could get out and walk back to campus,” but he refused, according to the complaint.

He allegedly asked if he could kiss her, but she said “no.”

When they arrived at campus, he allegedly said, “I have to kiss you,” and forcibly grabbed and kissed her.

The driver was convicted of sexual assault in the woman’s case, according to the lawsuit.

Jane Doe 9, who lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, ordered an Uber home from a bar about 2 a.m. in October 2017.

Her phone died before the car got there.

“The Uber driver began driving on the highway in the wrong direction,” according to the lawsuit, at which point Doe 9 began panicking.

But the driver allegedly told her “not to panic” and “began touching her legs, putting his hand down her shirt and feeling her breasts,” the complaint states. Though she was begging the man to take her home, he instead pulled off the highway and parked in his own apartment complex, according to the lawsuit.

When she refused to get out of the vehicle, she said the driver tried to pull her out. Doe 9 screamed, and a neighbor came out to see what was going on.

“Doe 9 shook her head to indicate that everything was not alright,” according to the complaint.

The neighbor helped her, and Doe 9, who was “hysterical and continued to feel unsafe,” called police, and the driver was arrested, the lawsuit claims. He was allegedly charged with kidnapping, indecent assault, false imprisonment, and harassment.

He allegedly told police that he wasn’t actually logged in on the app as a driver, but “that she looked intoxicated, so he picked her up,” according to the complaint.

The driver was terminated from the company after a report, according to the lawsuit.

An Uber spokesperson said in a statement Thursday that the company takes the allegations “very seriously.”

“Arbitration is the appropriate venue for this case because it allows the plaintiffs to publicly speak out as much as they want and have control over their individual privacy at the same time,” it said.

Uber fired at least 20 employees last year in the aftermath of an investigation into its workplace culture after former employee Susan Fowler published a detailed account online of the sexual harassment she experienced at the company.


Jury convicts Uber driver of raping passenger

Marc Freeman Sun Sentinel

The jury rejected his claims of a consensual sexual romp, and Uber driver Gary Kitchings now stands convicted of raping a passenger he picked up after SunFest last year.

A weeklong trial ended Friday with a guilty verdict on five felony charges for the 58-year-old former foster care provider, who drove part-time for the ride sharing service.

Kitchings testified his front-seat passenger was flirtatious, and it turned into a consensual sex “good time” hook up at her Jupiter condo before he returned to Uber driving the same night.

Gary Kitchings, 58, testifies in a Palm Beach County courtroom on March 15, 2018, in his own defense against charges of raping a woman after giving her a Uber ride from SunFest last year.

 But his 38-year-old accuser said her ride home in Kitchings’ Nissan Versa and the attack in her home were terrifying. She told the jury that Kitchings was a “monster” who locked the car doors, threatened to shoot her unless she performed a sex act and swallow his urine while he drove, and then broke into her home and raped her.

It took nine hours of deliberations over two days, but the panel of five men and one woman decided the woman was a victim. Kitchings was acquitted of one sexual battery count, over the alleged oral sex in the car.

“I’m so very happy with the verdict,” the woman told reporters outside the courtroom, asking not to be identified. “Thank you, thank you, thank you, for an amazing jury. I wish I could thank each of them in person.” Juror 5, one of the men on the panel, told the South Florida Sun Sentinel that they took their time going through the evidence because “you don’t want to make the wrong decision.” The juror, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said it was “a classic case” of he-said, she-said and ultimately they decided she was raped.

The woman, who lives in New York City and runs an online skin care products company, also praised prosecutors Marci Rex and Brianna Coakley as “heroes.” Rex said the verdict was a relief because it didn’t turn out to be another case where the woman is blamed for claiming rape. “It’s so rewarding to know the jurors could look at the evidence and look even at the victim’s word and not just say that it’s a he said, she said,” the prosecutor said. “It speaks volumes on a shift in the rape climate to know that they usually blame the victim and this time they didn’t do that.”

Kitchings was found guilty of three counts of sexual battery with a deadly weapon or physical force, one count of burglary with assault or battery, and false imprisonment.

Kitchings then returned to Palm Beach County Jail and will face up to life in prison when he is sentenced May 18 by Chief Circuit Judge Krista Marx.

Assistant Public Defenders Stephen Arbuzow and Raquel Tortora vowed to challenge the convictions.

One of the grounds for the appeal is expected to be Judge Marx’s refusal to let the defense inform the jury that Kitchings’ accuser had made a rape claim against a different man over an encounter in a New York City hotel in 2016. The defendant in that case also says it was consensual, and a trial is likely in April.

“We’re disappointed in the way this turned out,” Arbuzow told reporters. “We believe Mr. Kitchings is an innocent man.”

 Gary Kitchings appears in this May 8, 2017 booking photo.

 (Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office)

After his arrest, Kitchings lost his jobs with Uber and a foster home facility in suburban West Palm Beach.

On the witness stand, Kitchings said he was guilty only of cheating on his wife, saying he was flattered by the attention from the younger woman he picked up May 7, 2017, following the West Palm Beach arts and music festival.

“She asked me if I cheat,” he said, denying that anything sexual happened in the car. “I wasn’t opposed to any of it.”

Kitchings said once they got to her place, the woman said it wasn’t necessary for him to grab a condom from his trunk, and he recalled, “She had this nice grin on her face.”

During his closing argument Thursday, Arbuzow said the woman was lying and putting on an act when she called 911 after Kitchings went back on the road. The jurors listened to a recording of the woman crying to the operator on the call.

Arbuzow said he was afraid the jury would convict his client “just because it sounds horrible,” suggesting the woman cried rape because she had regrets about the hook-up, or possibly she wanted to make an excuse for selling her condo. He also said police never found a gun.

But the prosecutors said the woman had no reason to make up the rape, which meant undergoing an invasive hospital exam and later testifying before strangers in court.

They also said that in the days before the attack she was with her boyfriend in Mexico, and would never be attracted to an overweight Uber driver for what the defense branded a “one night stand.”

“This was the worst night of her life,” prosecutor Rex said.


Uber driver charged with attempted abduction arrested in connection to another crime


Anthony Rowell, an Uber driver who was charged in January for an attempted kidnapping in Columbia, was arrested Wednesday in connection to a rape and abduction last November.

According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the 20-year-old female victim had been drinking with friends on Nov. 16. She reported having no memory of leaving the bar, and the next thing she remembered was being in a gold colored minivan while a man stunned her with a stun gun, and she remembered holding her head between her legs.

The two men in the van told her that she was taken to another location where "bad things happened to her," law enforcement said. She was then driven to an unknown location and pushed out of the van. 

On March 5, the Highway Patrol lab linked Rowell's DNA to the crime.

According to reports, a search warrant was served for Rowell's home in Fulton on Wednesday. The Callaway County Sheriff's Department collected a stun gun with a long strand of hair attached to the striking end. Rowell was then arrested by deputies on suspicion of rape in the first degree and kidnapping. Bonds have yet to be set by the court. 


Uber facing lawsuit over crash involving wrong driver

Updated: 1:00 PM EDT Mar 15, 2018

Paul Van Osdol   


A Western Pennsylvania man is suing Uber after he says one of its drivers turned over the car to her roommate – who then crashed it.

Austin Lee, of East McKeesport, took an Uber to meet his parents in Shadyside.

But he said the driver who picked him up is not the same person who responded to him on Uber's app.

According to court records, when Lee requested an Uber, his app said the driver's name was Tina and that she drove a Chrysler Sebring.

When the car arrived, Lee said, it was a Sebring and the driver was a woman.

“I did see an Uber sign, an Uber sticker on the car as Uber cars have. I went in and sat in the car and thought I was safe,” Lee said.

Minutes later, the car was on Bigelow Boulevard in Pittsburgh when it crashed into a tree. Lee said all he remembers is “seeing actual blood gushing from my head onto my pants and not knowing what happened, and afterward not being able to turn my neck.”

Lee ended up in the hospital with extensive injuries, according to court records.

A police report said the driver was not named Tina, but in fact was Linda Bruce. The report said Tina King is the car owner and also Bruce's roommate.

King was supposed to be the Uber driver, according to Lee's lawsuit.

“I was just shocked that that can even happen with such a big company, a world-renowned company,” Lee said.

“Then to put salt in the wound they charged him $16.81 for a ride that was never completed,” said Jack Goodrich, Lee’s attorney.

He said Uber refused to cover the accident under its insurance because the wrong person was driving.

“I mean that just makes no common sense -- charge me for the ride but then deny responsibility and liability,” Goodrich said.

In court filings, Uber, King and Bruce have denied the lawsuit's allegations. All of them refused to comment.

In a statement, Uber said when it gets a complaint that a driver did not match his or her profile, it takes appropriate action, which could include removing the driver from the Uber app.

No charges were filed against Bruce resulting from the accident.

Lee said Uber needs to do a better job making sure the right driver is behind the wheel.

“They should be doing a lot more especially with the technology available today to check on their drivers before they even start the car,” he said.

In a statement, Uber said it does check drivers by periodically asking them to take selfies and then matching that image with an existing photo of the driver.


Man dies when Uber driver slams into car off Gulf Freeway

Autumn Rendall | March 3, 2018

An Uber driver slammed into a stalled car on the Gulf Freeway feeder road around 10 p.m. Friday, killing a man whose car was stalled on the road.

The man was driving southbound on Gulf Freeway near FM 2351 when his car broke down and he was stopped in the right lane. Another man in an SUV pulled over to give the car a jump start, while the stalled car's driver stood in front of his vehicle.


Man held in connection with Las Vegas homeless shooting deaths (LYFT DRIVER)


By Blake Apgar Las Vegas Review-Journal

February 20, 2018 - 4:10 pm

A Las Vegas man suspected of fatally shooting two homeless men and injuring two other people was taken into custody late last week, law enforcement officials said.

Joshua Emmanuel Castellon, 26, faces two counts each of murder and attempted murder in addition to a federal gun charge related to the shooting spree that set Las Vegas police and some of the area’s homeless community on edge since late January.

“(The) good news is we have a suspect in custody, and we’re relieved that a dangerous person is off the streets,” Metropolitan Police Department homicide Capt. Robert Plummer told reporters Tuesday afternoon.

A Las Vegas police officer questioned Castellon early Feb. 8 after the officer saw the man sleeping outside an apartment complex near Washington Avenue and Rainbow Boulevard, according to a federal criminal complaint.

By Feb. 14, police had centered their investigation on Castellon, Metro homicide Lt. Dan McGrath said. “Once we focused on this individual, and we get these multiple pieces of information, then everything started coming together,” he said.

Castellon was stopped and taken into custody Friday on a federal gun charge related to the case, McGrath said. The federal complaint says Castellon identified himself as a driver for the Lyft ride-sharing service.

A Las Vegas Review-Journal request for comment from the ride-sharing service was not immediately returned Tuesday.

Castellon’s estranged wife told police she confronted her husband about being the shooter after she saw media coverage of the killings, but he denied any involvement, according to the complaint. She declined comment when reached by phone Tuesday.

Police still do not have a motive for the shootings, McGrath said. Police have not connected Castellon to any other shootings.

Metro does not have the weapon believed used in the shootings, and is seeking the public’s help to find it, he said. Castellon purchased the gun just days before the series of shootings began, police said.

Violent spree

Earlier this month, Las Vegas police said one man was responsible for shooting the four men at close range with a revolver, including two killed as they slept on the sidewalk.

The first shooting happened Jan. 29, when a man was shot in the arm just after midnight as he was working outside a convenience store in Logandale, about 60 miles northeast of Las Vegas, according to the criminal complaint. A police officer ran Castellon’s plate in nearby Moapa about 20 minutes before the shooting, the complaint reads.

A few hours later in Las Vegas, 51-year old Brian Wayne Clegg was shot to death as he slept outside a swap meet near Rancho Drive and Washington Avenue.

That same day, a homeless man was shot in the face as he slept near Washington and Las Vegas Boulevard, but he survived. When the man woke up, he initially thought he had an abscessed tooth, according to the complaint.

“Once (the man) arrived at the hospital, however, x-rays revealed that there was a bullet lodged in his neck,” the complaint reads.

Early Feb. 2, 64-year-old James Lewis was shot dead as he slept under his blankets near 14th Street and U.S. Highway 95.

All but one of the shooting victims were homeless.


Uber driver accused of robbing woman at knifepoint in northwest Miami-Dade

Yoandi Borroto, 31, accused of snatching $2,300 from victim's purse

By Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor

Posted: 11:08 AM, February 27, 2018Updated: 10:55 PM, February 27, 2018

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. - An Uber driver was arrested Monday, weeks after he robbed a woman at knifepoint in northwest Miami-Dade, authorities said.

According to an arrest report, the victim requested an Uber to pick her up outside Mango's in Miami Beach early in the morning on Feb. 4.

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Police said Yoandi Borroto, 31, picked up the victim in his Toyota Camry and she requested that he drive her to the area of Northwest Seventh Avenue and 107th Street.

When the victim got out of the car, Borroto exited the vehicle as well, pulled out a knife and demanded money from the victim, the arrest report stated.

Police said the victim struggled with Borroto, but he was able to get $2,300 in cash from her purse.

The victim told police that she took a photo of Borroto's car with her iPhone, but he snatched the phone from her hand.

The victim said she bit Borroto on his left arm during the struggle, and he got back into his car and drove away.

The victim's boyfriend told Local 10 News reporter Michael Seiden that although the driver got away with the woman's phone, she had the photo of his car saved on her iCloud. 

"I was, like, shocked because why would an Uber driver rob you?" Michael Clarke said. "He pulled a long knife on her (and said), 'Give me your money.'" 

Police said the victim also identified Borroto in a photo lineup on Sunday. He was arrested the next day on a charge of armed robbery with a deadly weapon. 

Uber spokeswoman Jodi Page confirmed that Borroto is an Uber driver, but said the company has no record of him driving for the ride-sharing service on Feb. 4. 





It turns out the Uber driver who told a 14-year-old girl she "looked hot and had nice lips" hours after he told another female passenger he could satisfy her needs, had a previous conviction and three previous complaints for improper behaviour...a court heard.

Again we've seen Uber failing to pass on sexual complaints to either TfL or the Police. 

Spyros Ntounis, 35, slowed his car down to 5mph so he could have more time with the teenager after she used the app to book a journey home from a night out at a friend's home.

Allister Walker, prosecuting, said the driver told the girl she "looked hot and had nice lips" while driving her to Kingston-upon-Thames in southwest London.

Ntounis then gave the girl some chewing gum, before giving her his mobile number after she told him she did not have an Uber app.

The next morning Ntounis started sending WhatsApp messages to the schoolgirl asking if she was okay and offered to 'give her lessons' in anything she wanted.

Ntounis sent her messages asking when they could next meet up, then quizzed her on whether he had 'passed the age test', jurors at Kingston Crown Court heard.

The teenager showed her parents, who urged her to block him on Whatsapp and contact the police.

Ntounis, of Drayton Green Road, West Ealing, denied but was convicted of attempting to meet a girl under 16 years of age following grooming.

It came out in court that the driver had faced three complaints from previous female passengers.

• A woman contacted Uber after Ntounis told her he felt 'horny' on October 8, 2016.

• Another complaint was lodged in November 2016 after Ntounis started talking to a passenger about 'inappropriate things'.

• The third complaint was made on April 21 las year, just hours before Ntounis targeted the 14-year-old girl. The passenger said Ntounis asked her if he could "'satisfy her needs". 

Three complaints yet Uber took no action and failed to pass on these serious complaints to TfL Ntounis' private hire licence was only suspended as a result of the forth allegation.

Judge Timothy Lamb QC said: "It's troubling the circumstances of this offence. Particularly considering I heard about his previous behaviour in his Uber car that the jury didn't hear about.

"His service was dispensed with by Uber but again, only after the three complaints by ladies about his conversation in the car."

How was this driver licensed by TfL with a previous conviction?

Was he one of Helen Chapman's 13,000 Uber drivers with fake DBS checks swept under TFL's carpet?

Ntounis previous conviction of dishonesty was from October 2014, for which he was handed a 12 month suspended sentence for 24 months, but was still given a TfL licence???

Judge Lamb bailed Ntounis ahead of sentence on March 19 but said: "You have been convicted by a jury, I need a report from you.

"I will give you your liberty this time but I wouldn't assume that because I let you go today that you have avoided a custodial sentence. Could be prison in four weeks."

Inspector Jas Sandhu, Met's Roads and Transport Policing Command said: "The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) will not tolerate any offences committed upon passengers of private hire vehicles and will robustly pursue offenders. Bit late though as this was his second conviction and had three complaints for sexual harassment.  

"Thanks to the actions by the latest victim and her family instigating the Met's investigation, a dangerous individual's actions have been stopped from going any further."

Siwan Hayward, Transport for London's Head of Transport Policing, said: "We take all allegations against licensed Taxi and Private Hire drivers extremely seriously and as soon as we were made aware of this offence we suspended this driver's licence immediately.

Siwan, this driver should have never been licensed in the first place, this was a  result of scandalous inadequate performance by TfL !

"As this case shows, reporting any behaviour that makes you feel uncomfortable is very important. It will be taken seriously (eventually) and by working closely with the police we will fully investigate all allegations, bring offenders to justice and push for the toughest penalties possible."

Four complaints were made to Uber yet they took no action against their driver. The action was only taken when a complaint was made to the police.



The Woman Brought in to Fix Uber Is Leaving the Company

By Madison Malone Kircher February 27, 20185:56 pm

Back in June 2017, Uber — hot on unending a streak of the world’s worst press — announced it was hiring Frances Frei of Harvard Business School as the company’s first SVP of leadership and strategy. In other words, that they were bringing in a professional to make Uber a more professional workplace. Today, Frei announced she’ll be leaving Uber. “When I got here, my goal was to train and teach executives how to manage better, but it became super apparent that the training needed to go way beyond that,” Frei told Recode. “As soon as the executive team was calmer, I turned my attention to 3,000 managers whose jobs grew well beyond their skills, which I think was the real work.”

During her tenure, founder Travis Kalanick stepped down from his role as CEO and was replaced by former Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. “I think with Dara leading, a lot of our biggest challenges are in the rearview mirror,” Frei also told Recode. She’ll stay on in an advisory capacity, a role which she held prior to coming on full-time — and commuting between Cambridge and San Francisco — as an SVP. According to a memo sent to Uber employees by Khosrowshahi this week, Frei is off to design “another first-of-its-kind executive education program” before resuming her role teaching at Harvard.



Police have not arrested the driver.

Author:Kristen Reed

Published:1:36 AM EST February 19, 2018

A person is dead and an UberEATS driver is on the run after a late-night shooting on Pharr Court South at The Concorde Condominiums in Buckhead.

According to police, 30-year-old Ryan Thornton of Atlanta, identified by the medical examiner, ordered food Saturday, Feb. 17 using the UberEATS app. As he was walking away from the driver around 11:30 p.m., words were exchanged between the two.

That's when police say the driver fired several shots, striking Thornton several times. The driver fled the scene in a white Volkswagen. At the time, police have not made any arrests.

Thornton was taken to Grady Hospital in critical condition and later died.

UberEATS is a smartphone app used to order takeout food from restaurants. Drivers for the company pick up the food and deliver it to the customer.

“We are shocked and saddened by this news," said an Uber spokesperson. "We are working with Atlanta Police, and our hearts go out to the families of those involved.”

11Alive reached out to family, who did not wish to speak publicly just yet. However, Thornton's uncle told 11Alive "Ryan was a good boy." The 30-year-old had just graduated from Morehouse College in May with a degree in political science and recently got a new job. Family said Thornton was the only child to his mother, who also lost her husband unexpectedly three years ago.



Florida school shooter arrived by Uber, escaped to Walmart after, cops say



February 15, 2018 05:38 PM

Updated February 15, 2018 10:47 PM

Nikolas Cruz confessed to the worst school shooting in Florida history, according to police accounts released late Thursday that paint a chilling narrative of a calculated mass murder.

It started with the killer arriving in an Uber. It ended with his peaceful arrest, after he escaped to a Walmart, where he bought a drink at the Subway inside.

An arrest report makes it clear that staffers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High immediately recognized Nikolas Cruz as a “former troubled student” as he emerged Wednesday from a small gold Uber car, carrying a black duffel bag and wearing a black hat. One staffer radioed a co-worker to alert authorities that Cruz was “walking purposefully” toward the school in Parkland.

But within seconds, it was too late. Cruz, according to an arrest report, methodically began firing an AR-15 assault rifle that had been stashed in the bag, methodically mowing down students and adults in the hallways. As chaos ensued, Cruz admitted to homicide detectives, the gunman ditched the gun to “blend into the crowd” fleeing the school.

The charging document filled in some details of the shooting that left 17 people dead and 15 wounded but did not address perhaps the biggest question — why. Cruz, who fellow students and former teachers say had a troubled history of fighting and had once been suspended for bringing bullets in a backpack, had been formally expelled from the school a year earlier. Many at the school speculate that’s why he picked out his old school as a target for revenge.

But whether Cruz, who made his first court appearance in Broward County criminal court on Thursday and was held with no bond, gave detectives a clear or coherent motive for the crime during hours of questioning remains unknown. He said little during a brief hearing as a judge declared there was probable cause for him to be held on 17 counts of first-degree murder.

He is now on suicide watch at the Broward County jail. The details of his mental health and his tumultuous life could become a factor as lawyers begin to mount a defense. Broward chief assistant public defender Gordon Weekes, whose office represented Cruz at the brief hearing told reporters: “He is deeply troubled.”

Suspected school shooter Nikolas Cruz makes a video appearance in Broward County court before Judge Kim Theresa Mollica. Cruz is facing 17 charges of premeditated murder in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

That was no surprise to his former neighbors in Parkland, who recalled a troubled child.

Police repeatedly visited his Parkland home because of his erratic, sometimes violent behavior, which included pelting a neighbor’s car with eggs. Jug-eared with freckles, he sometimes sat on the curb alone, avoided by neighborhood kids. He tormented animals, shooting at rodents and chickens with a BB gun.

“That child had an extremely cold stare,” said neighbor Rhonda Roxburgh. “He was going to hurt somebody. I just didn’t know it would be this bad.”

While the exact nature of Cruz’s mental state remains unknown — one relative said he suffered from autism — it is clear the teenager struggled with deep emotional outbursts for years, providing plenty of warning signs preceding the worst school shooting in Florida history. How Broward schools dealt with his episodes, and whether anything could have prevented his rampage, remain shrouded in secrecy because of federal student-privacy laws.

more of the story here..


Suspect in Colts' Edwin Jackson, Uber driver deaths previously convicted for drunk driving in California

Justin L. Mack,Vic Ryckaert,Fatima Hussein and Holly V. Hays, IndyStarPublished 10:31 a.m. ET Feb. 5, 2018 | Updated 11:03 a.m. ET Feb. 6, 2018

The 26-year-old linebacker was one of the two people killed when they were struck by a suspected drunk driver on I-70 early Sunday morning.

The man suspected of driving drunk and fatally striking an Indianapolis Colts player and his Uber driver early Sunday had twice been deported and was in the country illegally, police confirmed Monday.  

Police say Manuel Orrego-Savala, 37, had a blood-alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit when he hit and killed Edwin Jackson, a 26-year-old Colts linebacker, and 54-year-old Jeffrey Monroe, Jackson's Uber driver, around 4 a.m. Sunday.   

Orrego-Savala is from Guatemala, according to Indiana State Police. He was first deported in 2007 and again in 2009 following arrests in San Francisco, according to a spokesperson for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE officials say Orrego-Savala has a prior conviction in California for driving under the influence.  

The circumstances of his Sunday arrest emerged as the latest case to draw in politicians and activists, particularly as President Donald Trump and Congress debate immigration changes as another budget deadline looms this week.  

Trump reaction: Trump tweets about Jackson’s death, suspect being in U.S. illegally

Activists comment: Immigration activists respond to Jackson's, Uber driver's death

About the crash: What happened to Edwin Jackson: Everything you need to know

Vice President Mike Pence tweeted his condolences to Jackson's family Monday evening. 

"This was a senseless & avoidable tragedy," Pence tweeted." This is a great loss for the entire Indiana community. My prayers are with his family in their time of grief."

On my way to Alaska. I was very saddened to hear of the passing of Indianapolis @Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson. This was a senseless & avoidable tragedy. This is a great loss for the entire Indiana community. My prayers are with his family in their time of grief. https://t.co/JKkzxakfmE

— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) February 6, 2018

Tuesday morning, Trump tweeted a condemnation of Orrego-Savala, followed by condolences to Jackson's family.

So disgraceful that a person illegally in our country killed @Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson. This is just one of many such preventable tragedies. We must get the Dems to get tough on the Border, and with illegal immigration, FAST!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 6, 2018

My prayers and best wishes are with the family of Edwin Jackson, a wonderful young man whose life was so senselessly taken. @Colts

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 6, 2018


Supporters of reforms that would allow undocumented immigrants — and especially children — a path toward citizenship cautioned lawmakers not to conflate criminals with law-abiding children. 

"I agree with current law that punishes people who do not follow the law," said Ana Kotchkoski, president of the Venezuelan Association of Indiana, which regularly lobbies on behalf of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients. "This goes against everything were trying to fight for and pursue for DACA." 

In 2012, President Barack Obama created DACA through an executive order. The program allowed certain people who came to the U.S. illegally as minors to be protected from immediate deportation. The program has become a bargaining chip for Democrats, as President Trump and Congressional Republicans seek a budget deal to fund the construction of a wall on the southern border.  

Meanwhile, supporters of the wall — and, more broadly, tougher immigration laws — pointed to the deaths of Jackson and Monroe as a reason for stricter border security.  

“Their lives were taken by a twice-deported illegal immigrant who was not only two times the legal limit to drive, but attempted to flee the scene of the crime in a cowardly fashion," said Michael Joyce, Indiana communications director for the Republican National Committee, in a statement. "These horrific events only further underscore the need for immigration reform and stronger border security measures that can further prevent these tragedies from happening in the future.” 

This is the truck Manuel Orrego-Savala was driving during the crash that killed Edwin Jackson and Jeffrey Monroe (Photo: Indiana State Police)

Orrego-Savala’s history in the U.S. dates back more than a decade. ICE spokesperson Nicole Alberico said in an email that Orrego-Savala is believed to have entered the country on or around July 1, 2004.

He was convicted of driving under the influence in Redwood City, Calif., in 2005, Alberico said. It was unclear what happened immediately following his conviction.

He was once again arrested by ICE in San Francisco in October 2006 for being in the country illegally. He was removed to Guatemala for the first time on Jan. 17, 2007.

He was again arrested by deportation officers in San Francisco on March 26, 2009, and was removed to Guatemala for the second time on May 12, 2009.

It is unknown when he returned to the U.S. and at what point he arrived in Indiana.

According to the state police, the crash happened shortly before 4 a.m. Sunday along the westbound lanes of I-70, just west of Holt Road. 

Jackson and Monroe, of Avon, were standing near Monroe's stopped vehicle when Orrego-Savala's Ford F-150 pick-up truck drove onto the emergency shoulder and struck them both. 

Investigators believe Monroe pulled to the side of the road when Jackson became ill, and that Monroe got out of his car to assist Jackson. 

Orrego-Savala tried to run away but was arrested soon after on the ramp to Holt Road, police said. He used the fake name of Alex Cabrera-Gonsales, police said.  

One of the two victims was thrown into the center lane of I-70 during the crash, ISP Sgt. John Perrine said in a statement. A state trooper, who spotted the crash along the right side of the road, struck the body of a victim in the center lane, Perrine said. Police did not say which victim was struck.  

Manuel Orrego-Savala's blood-alcohol level was .239 percent, according to a preliminary probable cause affidavit filed in Marion Superior Court. In Indiana, a driver is presumed intoxicated at 0.08 percent. 

Indiana advocates for the rights of the undocumented sought to separate the issue of drunken driving from illegal immigration.   

"The tragedy here is that this young man lost his life due to the negligence of someone who decided to drive under the influence," said Francine Dash, a spokeswoman for Faith in Indiana. "Legal status is not the culprit here; drunk driving is." 

“There are no excuses to drink and drive," said Marlene Dotson, president and CEO of the Indiana Latino Institute. "It impacts the entire community."  

More than 10,000 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That represented one-third of all traffic deaths in the United States. 

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement did not return calls by IndyStar. Much of Orrego-Savala's background, including how much time he spent in Guatemala, is unknown at this point.  

Immigration to the U.S. from the Northern Triangle — Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras — grew by 25 percent over the eight-year period from 2005 to 2017, according to the Pew Research Center.  

Although violence tends to be the oft-cited cause for immigration from these three countries, Guatemala saw a slight decrease in violence in 2017, according to InSight Crime, a foundation studying organized crime in Central America.  

However, poverty runs rampant in Guatemala. In 2014, the year for which data is most recently available, more than a quarter of the country’s population lives on roughly $3 a day, according to the World Bank. Only the top 10 percent of the country’s population is considered middle class or wealthy.

Orrego-Savala has not been formally charged by the Marion County prosecutor's office. Prosecutors were granted a continuance, moving his initial hearing to Wednesday morning, according to the office.

He's being held in Marion County Jail. State police are working with federal immigration officials, Perrine said.

IndyStar reporter Ryan Martin contributed to this story.


Car marked with Lyft sticker involved in Logan Square hit and run

POSTED: JAN 27 2018 09:45AM CST

CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) - Police are looking for a female driver involved in a hit and run that injured a 68-year-old man last week in the Logan Square neighborhood on the North Side.

The man was struck by a vehicle marked with a Lyft sticker about 2:15 p.m. on Jan. 20 in the 2100 block of North Central Park Avenue, Chicago Police said. His injuries were life threatening, police said.

The vehicle that struck the man was was traveling northbound on Central Park Avenue from Dickens Avenue, and was described as a white or silver colored Nissan Versa with a Lyft sticker on the lower passenger side windshield, police said. The driver was described as a female wearing a wearing a white or beige knitted headband.

The Nissan had Illinois license plates that possibly begin with the letter A and was possibly a model from 2013 to 2017, police said.

The windshield and hood of the Nissan were damaged in the crash, police said.




January 18, 2018 02:38 PM

San Luis Obispo police have arrested an Uber driver from Santa Maria who they say escorted intoxicated women into their homes and then raped them.

On Wednesday, San Luis Obispo police served a search warrant at the home of 39-year-old Alfonso Alarconnunez in the 2300 block of Cesar Chavez Drive in Santa Maria, officials said. Alarconnunez was identified as a suspect in two separate sexual assault cases with multiple victims in SLO: one in the early morning of Dec. 18 and the other on Jan. 14, police said in a news release on Thursday.

Police say Alarconnunez, an Uber driver, targeted intoxicated women, gave them rides home and escorted them inside, where he then sexually assaulted them. Police said they believe Alarconnunez also stole property from the victims, including jewelry, cellphones and computers.

Police detectives believe Alarconnunez searched for parties in San Luis Obispo and solicited rides as an Uber driver. He would then collect payment through Venmo, a pay service app, to disguise his identity and his Uber records, police said.

Capt. Chris Staley said police have identified two victims in the December case and one in the January case. Staley said police first connected Alarconnunez to the Jan. 14 assault, and further investigation revealed he was connected to the Dec. 18 incident as well.

When police searched Alarconnunez’s home, police found several items of property belonging to the victims.

Alarconnunez was arrested on suspicion of eight charges, including two counts of rape of an unconscious victim and one count of rape of a drugged victim, as well as additional charges of grand theft, burglary and oral copulation with an unconscious victim.

He was taken to San Luis Obispo County Jail, where he is being held in lieu of $200,000 bail, according to jail records.

“There’s a lot of things outstanding that we’re still trying to piece together,” Staley said. “There may be additional charges we’re trying to request through the District Attorney’s Office.”

Since the arrest was made public at about 2 p.m. Thursday, Staley said the department has been contacted by a few people who’ve interacted with Alarconnunez, though he could not say whether those interactions took place around the same time as the assaults or at another time.

Police ask everyone with information regarding Alarconnunez, or anyone who believes they were a victim of assault or theft, to notify their local law enforcement agency.

Police urge everyone to confirm the identity of the driver and vehicle they request through the Uber or Lyft apps before getting into a vehicle. Payment should also be made through Uber or Lyft and not another payment service.


Uber driver sexually assaulted 3 students from Cal Poly, 1 from Cuesta, DA says





11 worst stories from Uber’s Year in Hell


Looking back over our coverage of Uber in 2017, the controversial subsidized taxi service based in San Francisco, it remains a wonder that this company survived what is arguably one of the worst years ever for a Silicon Valley startup. Stealing, lying, harassing, and bullying are just a few of the verbs that were associated with Uber’s year.

Along the way, we saw founder Travis Kalanick forced out and replaced by Dara Khosrowshahi as CEO. In between, we saw the most painful of CEO searches in which candidates either ran screaming from the chaos or were plunged into a humiliating civil war raging among board members.


Which means picking only 10 lowlights proved exceedingly difficult — ridiculously so. The appended list of runner-ups should attest to that.

But, without further delay, let us now relive the year that was for Uber, cringeworthy story by cringeworthy story:

1. Kalanick video: In late February, Kalanick was captured on video by the dashboard cam arguing with his Uber driver over declining fares. “To say that I am ashamed is an extreme understatement,” Kalanick wrote in an apology email to employees. “My job as your leader is to lead … and that starts with behaving in a way that makes us all proud. That is not what I did, and it cannot be explained away. It’s clear this video is a reflection of me — and the criticism we’ve received is a stark reminder that I must fundamentally change as a leader and grow up. This is the first time I’ve been willing to admit that I need leadership help and I intend to get it.”

2. Self-driving theft: Google’s self-driving automobile unit filed a lawsuit against Uber, claiming Anthony Levandowski, a former Google employee who founded the unit, downloaded 14,000 files from its hardware systems on his way out the door. Levandowski then founded Otto, a self-driving truck company, which was then bought by Uber. The suit claimed Levandowski and Kalanick hatched the whole plot together, something Uber denies. In any case, the accusation eventually led to one-time golden boy Levandowski being fired in May.

3. The blog post: For all the investigations and discussions into Uber’s Bro culture, it was a blog post published in February by a former Uber engineer alleging widespread sexism and harassment during her year working there that proved explosive. Susan Fowler wrote that her claims of sexual harassment by managers were repeatedly dismissed by the company, often with the excuse that her bosses were “high performing.” That led the board to hire former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to conduct an independent investigation.

4. Greyball: Sweet fancy Moses. Uber apparently created a program called Greyball to avoid detection by authorities in places where it either faced harsh regulation or was banned. The New York Times broke the story, explaining that Greyball used data from its main Uber app to block local officials and remain off their radar.

5. CEO firing: The Uber board did the once unthinkable and forced out Kalanick in June. This came less than three months after the board gave him a vote of confidence.

6. Board fight, part I: VC firm Benchmark sued Kalanick and then went public with its reasons, following endless leaks. In a letter to employees, Benchmark wrote: “We know that many of you are asking why Benchmark filed a lawsuit against Travis last week. Perhaps the better question is why we didn’t act sooner… We are sorry that it has taken us so long to do the right thing.”

7. CEO search: A normally secretive process instead played out in public due to infighting by the board and incessant leaks. It got so bad that one finalist, HP CEO Meg Whitman, publicly took herself out of the running. Though she later apparently put herself back in the running and then lost out at the very last minute to dark horse Khosrowshahi. Whitman then publicly re-committed herself to HP. Then she later announced she was going to leave HP. Uber will make you do confusing things like that, I guess.

8. Board fight, part II: Hiring a new CEO brought approximately one nanosecond of peace. Ousted CEO Kalanick launched a power play to regain leverage on the board as the new CEO attempted to restructure it to limit the bad boy’s role. The result devolved into another display of public criticism from rival board factions, but it eventually ended with Khosrowshahi getting his way.

9. Losing its London license: Amid the distractions and chaos, someone forgot to make sure the lights stayed on. In September, a London transportation agency yanked Uber’s operating permits because it’s not a “fit and proper operator.” Also, the company was basically acting like jerk, the agency said: “Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications.” I say!

10. Hack: In November, the company’s new CEO dropped a bombshell. The previous year hackers accessed personal data of approximately 57 million Uber riders and drivers — a hack that previously went undisclosed. Oops! Actually, “disclosed” is being nice. The company allegedly paid off the hackers to keep quiet about it, and then decided to keep it under wraps.

11. Spying: No respite of bad news in December thanks to the disclosure of a letter by a former Uber employee in the lawsuit involving Google’s self-driving car unit Waymo. According to the New York Times: “The 37-page letter, written on behalf of Richard Jacobs, a former Uber security employee, detailed what he described as the formation of separate internal teams designed ‘expressly for the purpose of acquiring trade secrets’ from major ride-sharing competitors around the world.”

For runner-up honors, we might mention in passing the Uber driver arrested in the murder of a British diplomat; SoftBank offering to buy shares at a price far below Uber’s previous valuation of $70 billion; a federal investigation into Uber’s actions in the Waymo case; a European Union court ruling that Uber was a taxi service and could be regulated as such; widening losses in the third quarter; a suit filed in San Francisco accusing the company of race and gender discrimination; the U.S. Federal Trade Commission sanctioning Uber for failing to protect users’ data and requiring it to undergo 20 years of audits; and being subject of a report indicating it has been sued 433 times so far in 2017.



Uber driver with criminal past arrested after British woman diplomat, 30, murdered, left by side of road


December 18th, 2017

A Lebanese Uber driver with “previous criminal violations” was arrested Monday in connection with the murder of a British diplomat, whose body was found on the side of a highway near Beirut over the weekend, according to officials.

Rebecca Dykes, who worked at the British embassy in Lebanon, was found strangled on Saturday after a night out with colleagues. A man was arrested at his apartment after authorities traced his car through security cameras that showed the vehicle traveling from Beirut to the area where Dykes’ body was found, officials said Monday.

The driver, whose name has not been released, confessed to killing the 30-year-old woman. Officials called the murder a “criminal act” that was not politically motivated.

Little information was released about the suspect, but a senior Lebanese security source told Sky News the man was an Uber driver. The ride-sharing company said in a statement Fox News that it is working with authorities in the investigation.

"We are horrified by this senseless act of violence. Our hearts are with the victim and her family. We are working with authorities to assist their investigation in any way they can,” an Uber spokesperson told Fox News.

Police are still investigating the cause of death and whether she was sexually assaulted.  

Dykes met friends and colleagues Friday night at a bar in Beirut’s Gemayze neighborhood, known for its restaurants and pubs where diplomats and journalists are often seen, Sky News reported. She left the bar around midnight, where the driver picked her up and drove her to a nearby neighborhood where she lived — but didn’t drop her off, Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency said.

The man then tried to sexually assault her and strangled her with a rope before dumping her body on the side of the highway, NNA reported. Lebanese media added that marks were found on her neck.

When Dykes’ body was found, there were no items pointing to her identity and she had no money or a cellular telephone. Authorities released a drawing of her in order for people who know her to come forward and identify her.

Dykes, who was expected to flying home for Christmas on Saturday, had been working as a program and policy manager at the Department of International Development since January. Her social media page said she was from London, previously attended the University of Manchester and University of London.

Friends told Sky News Dykes was “a very cautious, astute and highly intelligent woman.”

“She had the highest level of security training,” the unidentified friend said. "I know she followed procedures, especially in the job she did. She was very charming, sociable and dedicated to her work.”

The friend added, “She wasn't the kind of girl to be walking around on her own. She was always in control.”

Her family released a statement saying they were “devastated” by the death and requested the media respect their privacy “at this very difficult time.”

"The whole embassy is deeply shocked and saddened by this news," said British Ambassador to Lebanon Hugo Shorter in a statement, "Our thoughts are with Becky's family, friends and colleagues for their tragic loss."

The murder has shaken Lebanon, where such crimes, particularly against foreigners, are relatively uncommon. Beirut has been considered relatively safe despite recent chaos in the Middle East.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 


Uber driver charged with raping 16-year-old passenger

By Avi Selk December 15, 2017 

Police were called to an apartment complex outside Atlanta in the dark hours of Monday morning to find an extremely intoxicated 16-year-old girl with her pants around her ankles, they said.

She told Gwinnett County police officers that her Uber driver had just raped her. Now that driver is in jail, and police say the girl may not have been his only victim.

The teen had been out drinking at a bar, police said in a statement, and a friend ordered her an Uber to get home.

Abdoulie Jagne — a 58-year-old who had been driving for the service for two months and had no prior complaints, according to the company — pulled up to the bar.

According to Fox 5 Atlanta, Uber later provided information to police suggesting the ride took longer than it should have. Detectives now suspect that Jagne raped the girl on a street lined with houses and strip malls in an unincorporated section of the suburbs, a few miles northwest of Atlanta.

[An eavesdropping Uber driver saved his 16-year-old passenger from her pimps, police say]

He then dropped her off at a complex along the same road, where she started banging on doors and saying her driver had assaulted her.

Officers called to the complex took the girl to a hospital and got in touch with Uber. On Thursday, they arrested Jagne on a charge of rape.

The driver was calm at the point of handcuffs, sheriff’s deputies told the Fox affiliate. He remained in jail Friday, and it was unclear whether he had an attorney.

Police have not provided any more details about the case but suspect Jagne may have assaulted others, and they have asked anyone who may have been a victim to contact them.

An Uber spokeswoman told The Washington Post that the driver has been permanently banned and that the company is cooperating with police.

“What’s reported here is horrifying beyond words,” Uber said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with the rider and her family during this time.”

The arrest is the latest in a string of violent incidents allegedly involving Uber drivers, including a 2014 rape case that got the service banned from New Delhi, a fatal accident involving a 6-year-old in San Francisco and a mass shooting last year in Kalamazoo, Mich.

As The Post has reported, Uber is facing a class-action lawsuit that claims flaws in its screening process have endangered thousands of people.

Drivers are required to clear a criminal background screening, but Uber has strongly resisted calls to strengthen that system with fingerprint checks — going as far as to shut down its operations in areas that demand it.