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Saturday, March 20, 2010

A tough cabbie, shot five times in the head and neck with a .22 revolver, subdues his punk assailant and holds him until cops arrive.

March 16, 2010

"He's a strong guy. God gave him the strength. Maybe he was mad because he doesn't like (people) hitting other people," said Maria Foster, wife of the cab driver who was shot five times in the face and neck.

The cabbie, Patrick Foster, 44, not only survived, but captured the gunman and held him down until police arrived.

"It was terrible," said Maria, 46, who is originally from Honduras, of the early Saturday incident in a Zion residential area. "He called me at 3:20 in the morning. 'Maria, I got shot,'" she said he told her. "After he called police he called me twice," she said at a press conference at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville on Monday.

Trauma surgeon Dr. William Watson said Patrick Foster, 44, was operated on by three surgeons and was sedated and on a breathing machine. He said Foster was in stable, but critical condition in the intensive care unit.

"I do expect him to be able to survive these injuries," Watson said. "He is a very strong, healthy man. I think he is very lucky," he said.

"He was conscious when he arrived," Watson continued, "He will be in the hospital for some time."

Watson said Foster had five wounds, but he couldn't say exactly how many times he was shot because of bullets fragmenting and the possibility of exit wounds. He also had a head injury.

"I do commend him for what he did. I am amazed at what he was able to do with these injuries," said Watson, describing how one bullet that entered his neck must have made it hard for Foster to breath.

Foster lives with Maria and his two children in Park City and has three children from a previous marriage. He had worked for 10 years as a truck driver for Sysco Corp., a marketing and food distribution company in Des Plaines. He was laid off his job six months ago.

Maria said she didn't like the idea that he was going to drive a cab, but he wanted to "because he said he can't just sit here." But he had assured her that if he was nice to people they would be nice to him. "He was trying to bring some extra money to the family," she said of her husband of 14 years.

"I was worried about it," she said, because in Honduras driving a cab is very dangerous. He had been working for less than two months when he announced that he was thinking of buying a cab. "We'll be divorced if you buy a cab," she said and he backed down.

Darryel Garner, 38, of Waukegan, the man accused of shooting Foster early Saturday, was charged with attempted murder and aggravated battery with a firearm. He is scheduled to appear April 6 for a preliminary hearing and is being held in lieu of $750,000 bond.

According to Zion Deputy Police Chief Wayne Brooks, Garner told police Detective Jay Labonne that he called Metro cab in Waukegan for a ride into Zion. Garner admitted shooting Foster several times, Brooks said, intending to rob him because he was unemployed and depressed.

Police responded to the 3100 block of Lebanon for a reported shooting. They found Foster on top of Garner holding him down on the ground next to the bright yellow minivan taxi. Then they found Foster was shot in the left and right side of his neck and near the center and back portion of his neck. He was also shot in the lower lip/jaw area and the upper middle portion of his back, which the surgeon said was his lower neck.

Police said that after being shot Foster jumped into the back seat of the cab and physically struggled with Garner. Police recovered a small .22-caliber, five-shot revolver in the rear seat area of the cab. The revolver contained five empty shell casings. The cab had a bullet hole in the windshield.

Maria Foster said she told God she forgave the man who did this because "you are the one who will judge him. My husband will forgive him, too," she said. The Fosters are members of St. Patrick Catholic Church in Wadsworth, and Patrick belonged to a Bible study group there.

Maria Foster said neighbors, church members, her sister and cousins have all been helping her cope with the situation. "My family and I want to thank God for taking care of my husband and keeping him alive and we want to thank the doctors and the hospital staff. They did an amazing job for him," she said.

She said she had recently signed up the family for Medicaid when he lost his health insurance after being laid off.

"He has a lot of friends in church. He likes to help people," she said. "I want to see him awake," she said at the news conference, "I worry."

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