GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A Gulfport taxi cab driver is fortunate to be alive after, he said, one of his passengers tried to kill him. That passenger is now in the Harrison County Adult Detention Center charged with aggravated assault.
Value Cab Owner Richard Smith tends to his injuries and thanks a higher power, days after surviving an assault by one of his passengers.
"He grabbed me by the shirt," Smith recalled. "He said I'm either going to beat your you know what, or I'm going to kill you."
Smith said on Friday night he picked up Stephen Paul Harmon, 52, of Gulfport. He then drove him to his home on Mennonite Road for a $32 fare. That's when Harmon claimed he had no money, told Smith to wait, and pretended to go get his payment.
Instead, Harrison County Sheriff Troy Peterson said Harmon brought out a handgun and began beating Smith in the head with it.
Smith says he got away by speeding off in his cab, but accidentally drove straight into a pond in Harmon's front yard.
"And as my car was sinking, I got out, swam to shore, and when I got to shore, he started shooting at me," Smith said.
He said his attacker fired eight shots at him, four of them while he was on the phone with police saying Smith was an intruder on his property and he had the right to shoot. Smith said he then ran and hid in the woods until emergency crews found him. They took him to Garden Park Hospital for treatment.
Meanwhile, Harmon has been charged with a felony: Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon.
"The suspect in this case, we know very well. He has some mental issues," Sheriff Peterson said. "What we're trying to do now is get him evaluated inside the jail."
The sheriff said Harmon is now being held at the Harrison County Adult Detention facility on $200,000 bond.
Smith said Harmon was a quiet passenger before the assault, and that he's thankful to be alive.
"It was the good Lord being there and poor marksmanship by this gentleman," Smith said.