Cabbie Had Seat Belt On When Found Fatally Shot

Bond was denied for accused killer of cabbie Mazhar Nazir, above.
Bond was denied for accused killer of cabbie Mazhar Nazir, above. (Family Photo - Family Photo)
  Enlarge Photo    
By Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 18, 2008

When police found Mazhar Nazir shot to death in his taxi Nov. 2 in Tysons Corner, he was sitting in the driver's seat with his shoulder and lap seat belt fastened, a Fairfax County prosecutor said yesterday.

That revelation dealt a blow to the claim by Evan D. Gargiulo, 22, that he shot Nazir in self-defense as the cabdriver began to climb over the front seat to attack him after a fare dispute. A Fairfax circuit court judge then denied Gargiulo's request to be released on bond, bringing shouts of "Thank you!" from about 20 cabbies who attended the hearing to show their support for Nazir.

Nazir, 49, had been driving a cab in the Washington area for more than 25 years, his friends said after the hearing, and moved to this country from Pakistan 33 years ago. He was married and lived with his wife and 12-year-old son in the Baileys Crossroads area of Fairfax.

"We miss him very badly," Shahzad Chaudhry said. "His wife, still she cannot speak."

Other drivers and longtime friends said that Nazir was not violent, did not argue over money and often waived the fare of people in distress. Altaf Anjun told the story of Nazir picking up a distraught Russian woman at 3 a.m. in Georgetown. She had lost all her documentation and had no contact information for anyone in this country. Nazir took her to his home, fed her and helped her contact the Russian Embassy later that day, Anjun said.

"He was always a friend," Anjun said, known as someone in the Pakistani community whom people could call for help. He once owned his own cab company, Anjun said, and "all wanted to drive for him."

Nazir picked up Gargiulo outside the Fur nightclub in Northeast Washington early Nov. 2. Gargiulo told police that he was wearing a scuba wet suit to a Halloween party and that a bag containing his wallet, keys and cellphone had been stolen inside the club. He persuaded Nazir to take him to his apartment in Reston for $75 and thought that he had more than $200 in cash in his wet suit.

According to Chief Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Ian M. Rodway, Gargiulo told Fairfax police that once he got home, he saw his 9mm handgun and decided "at that time he's going to take that weapon with him." In his own words, he "felt vulnerable" after having his wallet and phone stolen, Rodway said.

Nazir then drove Gargiulo to Tysons, where Gargiulo had parked his sport-utility vehicle at a friend's. But Gargiulo still didn't have any cash, Rodway said. After some discussion, Gargiulo told police, Nazir tried to climb over the front seat to attack him, and Gargiulo shot him. "Mr. Nazir was seat-belted in his car" when he was found, Rodway then noted.

Rodway pointed out that Gargiulo then went to his own vehicle, without calling police, and drove past the cab without stopping to check on Nazir. The next day, Rodway said, Gargiulo went to D.C. police and made a report about his stolen items, not noting that he had shot someone.

Gargiulo's attorney, Barry Helfand, said that Gargiulo, originally from Hillsborough, N.J., had recently graduated from Penn State University and wanted to return to his job as a systems engineer at Lockheed Martin in Reston. But Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Leslie M. Alden ruled that Gargiulo was "a danger to the community" and ordered him held without bond.


© 2008 The Washington Post Company