The Clewiston News

CPD: Taxi driver killed over $18

Joe Mccray, 46, was arrested in connection with the murder of Miami taxi driver Mohammad Ansari.

The Clewiston Police Department has revealed, in detail, what may have happened in the hours leading up to the death of Miami taxi driver Mohammed Ansari, 52, nearly two weeks ago. The information sheds more light on a story that has gripped the Clewiston community since news of the murder was first reported.

In a probable cause affidavit released to The Clewiston News late Tuesday evening, the department claims Ansari was shot after being robbed at gunpoint by Joe “GI” Mccray, 46, of Clewiston, in the parking lot of Sugarland Plaza on Saturday, Sept. 26.

Mccray was arrested in the early morning hours of Oct. 3 and charged with murder in the second degree, armed robbery and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

According to the narrative, the suspect allegedly stole about $18 to $19 from Ansari before shooting him in the leg. The shooting took place at around 6:30 a.m. on Sept. 26.

When officers arrived on scene, Ansari was reportedly still alive and was treated by Hendry County EMS. Ansari was then transported to Hendry Regional Medical Center where he succumbed to his wounds.

According to police, the bullet severed both the main artery and vein in Ansari’s thigh.

Witnesses on scene at the time of the shooting reported seeing the taxi pull into the parking lot at around 6 a.m. A black car was reportedly parked next to the taxi and two women were allegedly seen talking to Ansari next to the taxi.

Clewiston detectives recovered video surveillance from Snap Fitness, which reportedly showed the taxi pulling into the parking lot at 6:13 a.m. at which time a dark-colored car pulled in front of the cab.

However, it was the evidence police found inside the taxi cab that jump started their investigation.

Inside the taxi, detectives reportedly found a disposable bowl, paper plate and two black forks with what appeared to be scrambled eggs left on them. Detectives also found a Miccosukee Tribe of Indians identification card in the center console of the taxi, according to the narrative.

Detectives visited all Clewiston business serving breakfast at that time of morning and reportedly found the one that served it on the same disposable dishes found in the taxi cab: the Best Western Hotel.

Detectives pulled the surveillance video from the Best Western which reportedly showed two females getting out of a taxi with a Spring Cab insignia on the door before heading into the hotel.

As the women get back into the cab, reportedly with breakfast plates in hand, the video allegedly shows the taxi pulling away from the hotel following a dark-colored, four-door Chevrolet.

Later that same day, detectives responded to the Miccosukee Hotel and Casino in Miami to interview taxi drivers.

Two drivers reportedly identified one of the females in a still taken from the Best Western video surveillance, while another said he had spoken to Ansari several times that morning, the last call coming through at around 6:10 a.m.

The driver reportedly told detectives Ansari had picked up two Indian girls and taken them to Okeechobee before driving them back to Clewiston. According to the driver, Ansari said the girls did not have money to pay.

On Sept. 29, detectives spoke to one of the women, who was allegedly in the taxi the morning of Sept. 26.

According to her statement, she tagged along with another girl who wanted to visit her boyfriend in Okeechobee. Ansari reportedly picked them up at the casino and drove them to Okeechobee, however, they did not end up meeting the boyfriend. Instead they had Ansari take them to Clewiston where they reportedly arranged to have Mccray pick them up.

The woman reportedly told detectives when they arrived at the shopping complex in Clewiston, they got out of the taxi and into Mccray’s black car. At that time, they allegedly saw Mccray struggling with Ansari before hearing a gun shot.

According to the woman’s statement, Mccray got back into the car and told the girls not to worry, “he shot him in the leg, he will live.”

On Oct. 2, detectives spoke with the other woman who was allegedly traveling in Ansari’s taxi. She reportedly corroborated the other girl’s statements but also told police that after they left the parking lot in Mccray’s car, they traveled to a duplex on West Haiti Avenue where Mccray changed clothes before leaving again.

At around midnight on Oct. 3, detectives traveled to the West Haiti residence and arrested Mccray.

Lieutenant Michael Rowan, who led the investigation along with Sergeant Curtis Clay Sr. and Detective Steve Chamberlain, lauded the investigative work that led them to the alleged suspect. The three-man team worked between 19 and 24 hours for eight days straight, not resting until justice was brought for the victim and family, he said.

This was also Sgt. Clay and Det. Chamberlain’s first homicide case. Lt. Rowan said they worked as a team, using perseverance and good crime scene investigation to close the case.

Clewiston Police Chief Don Gutshall also praised the work of his officers.

“With the limited resources we have available, I am absolutely amazed at how quickly those three guys were able to button this up and the solid case they pulled together. We didn’t have state help, those guys got down and did good old fashioned police work. I’m awfully proud of them,” said Chief Gutshall.

The case led detectives from Clewiston to Miami, to Seminole County and back again, involving several different jurisdictions whose cooperation was instrumental in helping the case.

“It was a very unique case that involved many different jurisdictions that all worked cooperatively with this agency. With those jurisdictions and the helping hand of the local State Attorney’s Office, we were able to bring closure to this case,” he said.

Good police work is what ultimately helped solve the case, according to Lt. Rowan, who said, “All you’ve got to do is read the crime scene. It has a story to tell.”

Reportedly, neither of the two women involved in the events are being charged with a crime.