Uber driver robbed by passenger, fired for having gun

Uber said it will reinstate the driver after reviewing the situation
Published: Jul. 16, 2021 at 7:47 AM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - An Uber driver was robbed at gunpoint by his own passenger Monday night next to Pontchartrain Park, and it temporarily cost the driver his job, WVUE reported.

It was Clayton Lacniak’s third ride of the night. At the corner of Dumaine and Chartres, he picked up a man he said seemed to be getting off work at a restaurant, wearing kitchen clothes.

It was a totally normal ride, until it wasn’t.

“I got lucky enough he wasn’t brave enough,” Lacinak said.

Lacinak didn’t suspect anything was off as he approached the man’s destination.

He said they talked quite a bit on the ride about returning to work and driving for Uber, but a block and a half away, the passenger started yelling “Stop!”

“I was kind of confused because there was still a couple turns left in the situation,” Lacinak said. “I turned my head to be like, ‘Why?’ and then there was a gun in my face.”

Lacinak said the gun was two to three inches from his face, and the man was demanding Lacinak open his center console. That’s where he had $100 in emergency cash stashed.

“He opens this [the center console], gets my cash; and as he’s right here, he sees my gun case on my floor,” Lacinak said.

He said the man demanded he open the gun case and hand over the gun, magazine and holster, then took off into the neighborhood.

Lacinak called police later that night once he actually processed what happened as well as Uber, which deactivated his profile right then and there. He had violated Uber’s “no firearms” policy.

“They said that if I were to have a gun, it needs to be unloaded, in a lockbox, in my trunk,” Lacinak said.

However, Lacinak drives a pickup and does not have a trunk. He figured unloaded, in the box on the floor, in the front seat would be the next best thing.

“It almost feels like the situation didn’t even give me a chance to protect myself because I followed Uber’s rules,” Lacinak said.

He is shaken but grateful this didn’t end up worse. He still has his truck and his life, but not his job with Uber he’s relied on for two years.

“About 40% of my income is now gone so, I’m already kind of panic-looking for other avenues,” Lacinak said.

He said he carried his gun because he didn’t want to become another victim.

“I lost a friend of mine who also is in the tow truck industry,” Lacinak said. “He was robbed for his truck, just at work,. All he was doing was picking up a car, minding his business. Before he could even load the car up, he was shot, and they stole the truck from him.”

Lacinak says he needs the money, but does not feel protected by Uber or anyone else.

“How many people are getting carjacked and even being killed for their cars?” Lacinak said. “It’s not just the bills I need to pay. I have a fiance. I have a family.”

After taking another look at the case, Uber is going to reactivate his profile.

The company immediately banned the rider after it was reported and has a team that works with law enforcement across the country to help identify and locate suspects.

According to Uber:

  • Both riders and drivers can report any incident or accident via the app
  • The safety team reviews this information constantly and investigates any issues. Uber has a dedicated Incident Response Team to address any urgent issues.
  • The Incident Response team is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to respond immediately to incidents globally and trained to deal with serious issues that arise.
  • In any emergency, Uber advises riders to call 911.
  • Uber has a team of former law enforcement professionals around the globe who are on call to work with police 24-7 to respond to urgent needs and assist with investigations.
  • Uber has a law enforcement web portal to make the process of obtaining information in guidance with the law easier, faster and more secure for partners in law enforcement.

Lacinak said detectives were able to lift some prints off of his truck. The passenger is currently wanted for aggravated assault with a firearm.

Copyright 2021 WVUE via Gray Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved.