A man driving a livery cab overnight Saturday was found shot in the back of the head behind the wheel of the car near Rockaway Park in Queens, with his hands still clutched over some cash, police say.
Police received a 911 call at 7:40 a.m. on Sunday saying a man had been shot near Beach 32nd Street and Lewmay Road, four blocks from the beachside park.
Officers found a 30-year-old man sitting in the driver's seat of a white Ford Crown Victoria with a gunshot wound to the head.
"I came outside and I looked in the car, the guy had money clutched in his hand and he was slumped over," said an area resident whose parked car had been hit by the Crown Victoria during the shooting. "He had the money in his hand, and that's how he died."
"It was just heartless. Whoever did this has no compassion for life," she said. "I hope they find this guy and they catch him... This person does not deserve any leniency at all. Because it was a cold-hearted act."
The victim's family identified him to NBC New York as Patrick Hall, Jr., a father of three who lived in the area and drove a cab as a second job.
"It's something he does on and off," said Denise Shortt, Hall's cousin. "Times are hard."
"We're thinking it was an attempted robbery or robbery, but somehow he was shot in the back of the head," said Shortt.
Hall "was a great dad," she said. "Always with a bear hug, always with a kiss."
He was a driver for Magnificent 7's, the cab company told NBC New York. But Fernando Mateo, president of the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers, said at a press conference Sunday evening that Hall was not a licensed driver and that the car was not insured.
Mateo said the person who shot Hall appeared to be a street hail customer.
Mateo blasted livery cab companies he said were illegally lending out cars to unlicensed drivers for under-the-table profit.
"The message is very clear," said Mateo. "If you own a car service and you send an unlicensed driver out there, you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
Mateo called for investigators to crack down on livery cab bases that were sending illegal drivers out on the road.
He also cautioned livery cab drivers not to pick up street hails until there was a vehicle designed "similar to the yellow cabs, where you have a bullet-proof partition, where you have a GPS device, where you have enough equipment to save your life."
The New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers announced a $1,000 reward for information about his death.