DECATUR, Ga. — An Uber driver said he begged for his life and prayed to see his son again while being robbed at gunpoint.
The driver, who asked to be anonymous, picked up two male passengers around 5 a.m. on Thursday morning in Decatur. The driver thought nothing of the 12-minute ride until he stopped at the drop-off destination.
“When we got to the place, one of them got down and the other one stayed in the car, so I asked if this was the right place. They said yes and I heard the trigger for the weapon.”
The driver said one of the men pulled out a long gun which he believes was an AK-47. The second man, he said, pulled out a pistol.
“The small one, he hid the gun at his feet and the other one hid the gun on his side,” the driver recalled.
“He put the gun on my face,” the driver said of the passenger who remained in the car. “Asked me to leave the car running and get out of the car.”
The driver, a refugee from Iraq, said he started to plead with the two men.
“I said, please I have a son. Don’t kill me, because they put the gun on my head and I thought for sure they will shoot me.”
The two men, both wearing face masks, told the driver to turn around and walk down the road if he wanted to live. But this command only made the driver more terrified.
“They let you turn around and then they shoot you. So, when they told me to turn around and walk down the road, I thought I was done. When they told me 'turn around,' I closed my eyes and I just think about my son and my wife and my family.”
But the driver did walk away and soon found a nearby bus driver who helped him call 911. DeKalb Police confirmed they’re investigating a robbery that took place on Cobb Branch Drive on the morning of June 10. They did not provide additional details but added a suspect has yet to be identified.
The driver said he not only lost his car, his means of making a living, but his wallet which contained his ID, social security card, and green card. He reported the robbery to Uber, who he said did not immediately help police track the car or the riders.
An Uber spokesperson told 11Alive as soon as they were contacted about the robbery, the service “removed the rider’s access to the platform.”
“What’s been described is terrifying. We have reached out to (the driver) to offer our support and stand ready to assist local law enforcement with their investigation,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
But the driver thinks the process is going too slow and doesn’t understand why the platform didn’t immediately provide information about the riders to the police.
“If I put my life on someone’s hands and the other one doesn’t care about my life, then I don’t care for this job. We have too many Uber driver get robbed. At least protect me or do something.”
Uber acknowledged widespread reports of carjackings and “other violent assaults on drivers have increased during the pandemic across the country and we’ve seen this trend reflected on our platform as well.”
In Atlanta, auto thefts - which include carjackings - are up about 47 percent from this time last year. That number is for all carjackings, not just from Ubers or Lyfts.
Uber put together new safety measures to protect drivers, including more verification requirements for riders who set up accounts with anonymous payment systems. There’s also an emergency button drivers can press that calls or texts 911. Both Uber and Lyft prohibit riders and drivers from carrying any firearms in the vehicle.
It’s of little consolation to the driver of this story, who said he will not return to work for Uber. He added he simply wants his car, a light gray 2014 Dodge Journey, to be recovered, and he hopes to find his identification.
In the end, he’s grateful he managed to return home to his wife and five-year-old son.
“I’m very thankful for God because I stay alive and see my son again,” he said.