HAFIZ SALMAN Sarfaraz had a busy summer planned with his 7-year-old daughter, Namra.
"He made his daughter a promise, 'I'm gonna take you to the park every day,' " Sarfaraz's cousin, Yassar Iqbal, said outside Sarfaraz's Upper Darby home last night. "Now, they're not gonna have this summer."
Sarfaraz, 33, a cab driver for All City Taxi, was gunned down during what police believe was a botched robbery as he drove his cab in West Philadelphia early yesterday. Details are sketchy, but police believe Sarfaraz picked up a man who then shot him several times inside the cab around 12:30 a.m. on Walnut Street near Cobbs Creek Parkway.
Badly wounded, Sarfaraz crashed the cab into a building. He was rushed to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, but died of his injuries there about an hour later. His killer fled and remains on the loose.
"He's gone, but there are all these other cab drivers," said Waseem Sheikh, 30, a friend of Sarfaraz. "I bet everybody's in fear right now. The city needs to think about it."
Iqbal, who also drives a cab for All City, said cabbies face the constant possibility that they'll be robbed - or worse.
"Anybody can come rob us, kill us. He [Sarfaraz] just died. He has nothing," Iqbal said. "Drivers get no type of respect. We're treated like slaves, and we put our lives in danger to drive, and feed our families."
Hordes of relatives, other taxi drivers and friends of Sarfaraz gathered last night to pay their respects at his family's home in the tiny borough of Millbourne, where he lived with his wife for the last 13 years. All remembered Sarfaraz as a family man who worked tirelessly - sometimes 12 hours a day, seven days a week - to provide for his wife and daughter.
"He was a great guy, a working person," Sheikh said. "One of the coolest people you'll ever know."
All City Taxi put up a $3,000 reward for information leading to the capture and conviction of Sarfaraz's killer, and the Frankford-based company is taking donations for the man's family. The $3,000 reward is in addition to a $20,000 reward offered by the city for information leading to a conviction in any murder case.
Namra, Sarfaraz's daughter, didn't know yet last night that her father is gone, Sheikh said. The little girl, wearing a green dress, played happily with other children outside her house as friends and relatives spoke in hushed tones about the tragedy that befell her father.
Iqbal said he stopped driving on the night shift after another driver he knows was robbed and badly beaten.
"When every cab driver leaves home, it's like he's leaving for the last time," he said.
Anyone with information should call the Homicide Unit at 215-686-3334.
Donations for Sarfaraz's family can be sent to: All City Taxi, care of All City Cab owner Alex Friedman, 2301 Church Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19124.