Ride-share drivers on high alert after driver shot and killed

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URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) – Police have arrested two teenagers after a ride share driver was killed. It happened Wednesday night in Urbana, in the area of Vine and Burkwood.

Urbana police said right now, it looks like an attempted robbery while the victim was working. He was shot in the back. Now, ride share drivers in the area said they’re on high alert.

Uber and Lyft have become popular over the last few years in cities across the country. In central Illinois people of all ages work for the ride share companies, like Brad Stephens.

“I’ve been working for Uber and Lyft for about 6 years now,” Stephens said.

He said you don’t expect it, but some pick ups can become violent.

“I’ve had people kick my vehicles. I’ve had people threaten to fight me over the little things of picking up people,” he said.

And that was true for another driver we talked to. He wanted to remain anonymous, but told us he was dropping off a woman when she got angry and started hitting him, and then started hitting and kicking his car.

“I was kinda scared for my life right then,” he said.

After that incident, he said he quit ubering. He said it’s just too dangerous, and he said that become evident when a driver was shot and killed in Urbana.

The Champaign County Coroner has identified the victim as 29-year-old Kristian Philpotts of Chicago. Police have arrested a 16 and 17-year old.

“I don’t think it’s safe out there for these drivers. Out trying to make a few dollars make ends meet, and you know, just an innocent person, and this happens to him. It’s to me, it’s scary.”

He said there need to be several changes when it comes to ride-sharing services to help keep drivers safe. I asked Stephens if he is concerned for drivers in the future.

“I do, I mean you have to make steps safer for the driver. You know, for us to pick up passengers, we have to be safe doing this,” he said.

We have learned that the teenagers will be charged as adults, but we are still waiting to learn what those charges are. If you have any information, you’re asked to call Urbana police at 217-384-2320, or crime stoppers at 217-373-TIPS.

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