BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - A 17-year-old football star has been arrested and charged with the murder of Airport Taxi driver Mazen Abdallah.
Maurice Howie of Hamburg Street in Buffalo is accused of killing the cabbie in cold blood on March 6. Abdallah was found shot in the head on the back floor of his cab.
WATCH | The video with this story to see the press conference on Howie's arrest
Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda said, "It's a sad state of affairs when we have 17-year-olds shooting people over a robbery."
Derenda added, "He does have a record. I'm not ready to discuss that record. He was a football player for South Park. I believe he was a star athlete at South Park."
Abdallah had picked up a fare at the Perry Projects before his murder. His body was discovered by fellow drivers on Norfolk Avenue. Mazzen had worked hard at his job, often sending money to his mother who lives on the West Bank of Jerusalem.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said, "Mr. Abdullah was an innocent individual, doing his job, working in our community, and it was a crime that shocked the city."
A grief stricken community had mourned his death and Airport Taxi drivers later offered a $5,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of the killer or killers. Mazen's fellow drivers, including some of his relatives, were grateful to the police and the news media for keeping the case alive.
RELATED | Learn more about the murder of Abdallah
Abdallah's cousin, Zuhair Rizeq, said, "We are happy this case is going to come to a conclusion and get the criminal off the street, bring us a little sigh of relief. It's not going to bring my cousin back, but justice will be served."
Airport Taxi released this statement:
"The management and drivers of Airport Taxi Service would like to thank the men and women of the Buffalo Police Department, who worked so hard and were so thorough in their investigation of the murder of our dear friend and coworker Mazen Abdallah. We are extremely pleased at the news of the arrest of the suspect in this heinous crime, and will always be grateful to the police department for the dedication and perseverance in this case. Airport Taxi would also like to thank the local news media and especially Rich Newberg for focusing the attention on this case and keeping it in the public eye."
Eddy Emran said he spent more time with Abdallah working 8- to 10-hour shifts than he spent with his own family.
"We are brothers here, everybody at Airport Cab. We love each other. He broke my heart," Emran said.
News 4 asked Mayor Brown about the safety of taxi drivers in the city. He said he would work with taxi cab companies to find a way to possibly make it safer for them.
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