Uber driver arrested for hammer attack in San Francisco

Byby Cornell Barnard KGO logo
Sunday, September 28, 2014
Uber driver arrested for hammer attack in San Francisco
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A San Francisco Uber driver has been arrested for allegedly attacking a passenger in the head with a hammer.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Friday an Uber driver is off the job and facing assault charges. Police say he attacked a passenger with a hammer and the victim's injury is so bad, he might lose an eye. It happened in San Francisco at Ellsworth and Alemany Boulevard on Tuesday.

Roberto Chicas is recovering from a severe head wound and his family told ABC7 News they don't know what prompted the attack.

On Tuesday, Chicas and two friends got an Uber ride from San Francisco, but there was a dispute about the route the driver was taking. The driver then told passengers to get out at Allemany and Ellsworth in Bernal Heights, but then the driver went on the attack.

"Then he proceeded to assault the victim with a hammer," San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said.

Gascon says 26-year-old Patrick Karajua pleaded not guilty to the hammer attack, which left Chicas in and out of consciousness.

There was no one home at Karajua's home in Pacifica. Neighbors say police have been there before on disturbance calls.

"There's been some stuff at that house, brothers fighting," neighbor Brad Schweitzer said.

Hours later, ABC7 News cameras caught someone wearing a hoody who jumped into a car in the driveway and peeled off.

Uber released a statement saying: "Safety is Uber's #1 priority. We take reports like this seriously and are treating the matter with the utmost urgency and care. It is also our policy to immediately suspend a driver's account following any serious allegations, which we have done. We stand ready to assist authorities in any investigation."

Gascon has sent letters to ridesharing companies about possible violations of state and local laws including misleading information about driver background checks.

"It's not like I'm against the business model. I support anything that creates innovation and provides improvement for the consumer, we just have to balance it out with customer protection," Gascon said.

Ridesharing companies have until Monday to respond. As for the victim, his recovery could take months.