Taxi driver dragged out of his taxi and beaten to death in London, Ontario

Vijay Bhatia, 64, a London, Ontario taxi driver was killed last Saturday morning when he was attacked by a passenger in the parking lot of a convenience store in south London, Ont.

A 64-year-old taxi driver was dragged out of his car and beaten to death by a customer in London, Ont., on Saturday.  Vijay Bhatia was a grandfather and long-time driver, well-known among the city’s cabbies. He died when he was pulled from his cab early Saturday and attacked in the parking lot of a Mac’s convenience store, London police said.

“I am so upset, he was in the business a long, long time,” said Jason Kukurudziak, owner of Blue and White taxi. “It is tragic, just tragic. It is senseless.”  London police said officers responding to a report of an assault found Bhatia in the parking lot. He did not have any vital signs and was taken to hospital.

Bhatia was assaulted by one of two passengers in his cab, police said. Police took the passengers into custody.

Cody Perkin, 23, of London, is charged with one count of second-degree murder. He is also charged with assault and uttering threats in relation to another person, who sustained minor injuries not requiring medical treatment, police said. Perkin has been remanded into custody.

Kukurudziak downloaded footage from the interior video camera in Bhatia’s taxi and provided it to investigators. The video showed two passengers in the backseat, Kukurudziak said.  “The guy got into Vijay’s face, I don’t know why.”    Serenity Lane lives in an apartment across the street from the convenience store. She was looking out her window when she saw Bhatia being attacked.  “I watched a guy get pulled out of his cab and (beaten) to death.”

Lane, who has lived in the apartment for about a year, said she was about to go to the convenience store when she looked out her window.

“It was horrible, I feel disgusted by what I saw.”

Taylor Neilson, a friend of Lane’s, was in the apartment with her when the attack occurred.

“I was on the couch and I heard something. I said, ‘What’s going on?’ I could hear the screaming even though the windows were closed,” she said.

“When this happened it is a shock, it is so close,” she said, adding the neighbourhood is usually peaceful and quiet.

Lane said she and Neilson watched as the man who attacked Bhatia ran away and entered her apartment building.

“We saw him run across the street, a lot of people saw him,” Lane said.

Leila Kadoruy has worked at The Baron, a hair salon next to the Mac’s, for 12 years.

She said she wasn’t surprised to see police caution tape and a police cruiser at the strip mall when she arrived Saturday morning for work.

“I see a lot of things like this going on here,” Kadoruy said. “People have been attacked, the store has been robbed.”

She said she has been afraid to work late at the salon and feared for her safety when she did.

“I was scared. I won’t work at night anymore. I don’t feel secure.”

Aman Deep has owned the Mac’s for about three years. He said the clerk at the store didn’t see the attack. A London Transit driver who ran into the store told the clerk to call police, Deep said.

“My guy told me someone was hurt in the parking lot. He was working inside and he did not see anything. “I am surprised. I was robbed last year ”but mostly this is a good area,” Deep said.