Uber driver shoots, kills passenger during fight on interstate, police say

Police in Denver have arrested an Uber driver accused of fatally shooting his passenger early Friday morning during an argument as they drove on Interstate 25.

Michael Hancock, 29, was arrested Friday on investigation of first-degree murder, Denver police officials announced around 2 p.m. on the department's Twitter page.

Hancock and his male passenger, who had not been identified by mid-day Friday, were traveling south on I-25, just north of the University of Denver campus, around 2:45 a.m. when they got into a fight, police officials told The Denver Post. Hancock opened fire on the man, crashing his gray Nissan sedan into the retaining wall in the process.

The passenger was taken to an area hospital, where he was pronounced dead, the Post reported.

NBC News reported that Hancock was also treated at the hospital for undisclosed injuries before being released to investigators.

Police officials initially said that charges could come after the case had been presented to the Denver District Attorney’s Office.

Credit: AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Credit: AP Photo/David Zalubowski

“The detectives have to look at all angles of the investigation and then present the case to the DA’s office and they will decide whether charges will be filed,” Marika Putnam, a Denver police spokeswoman, told the Post Friday morning.

It was not immediately clear if Hancock was on the clock at the time of the shooting. Uber officials said in a statement that they are cooperating with detectives.

"We are all deeply troubled by the events in Denver today," Uber spokesperson Andrew Hasbun said in a statement obtained by the Post. "Our thoughts are with the families of those involved, and we will continue working closely with police."

I-25 was shut down for hours after the shooting and crash as detectives combed the scene and sought witnesses to the incident.

Hancock's mother told KUSA-TV in Denver that her son, who she said has a concealed carry permit from when he worked as a security guard, has been driving for Uber for a few years to earn extra money. Besides his job with Uber, Hancock also works as a counselor at a youth group home, she told the station.

"He's a husband, a father, a college student. He works two jobs," said Hancock's mother, whose name was not given. "It's a terrible, terrible thing that happened. We don't know anything else."

Uber prohibits riders and its drivers from carrying firearms of any kind while using the service's app, according to the Uber website. The only way a firearm can be transported while using the app is if it is done in accordance with Transportation Security Administration guidelines.

The TSA rules require all guns to be unloaded and locked in a hard-sided container in the trunk of the vehicle, the website said. All parts, including magazines and ammunition, must also be locked in the trunk.

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The Post reported that Colorado regulators last year fined Uber $8.9 million for allowing more than 50 people with past criminal or traffic offenses to drive for the company. The offenses wracked up by those drivers -- some of whom were working with revoked or suspended licenses -- varied from felony convictions to drunken and reckless driving, the newspaper said.

The hefty fine was later slashed in half after Uber challenged the findings, citing the fact that the Colorado Public Utilities Commission had dismissed 1,788 of the 3,570 violations that were cited.

An Uber driver is also accused of killing six people and wounding two others on Feb. 20, 2016, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Jason Brian Dalton, 47, targeted his victims at random as he allegedly blazed a deadly trail across the community.

Dalton, who the Detroit Free Press reported continued to pick up fares between shootings, told detectives the Uber app on his cellphone had taken over his mind and forced him to kill people, authorities said.

His attorneys are fighting to have his statements to police thrown out, the Free Press reported.

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