Police in Atlanta are searching for an UberEats driver who allegedly shot and killed a 30-year-old man after delivering his food. Police have not released a description of the driver, but say that he was using a white Volkswagen to make his delivery.
The victim, identified as Ryan Thornton, reportedly exchanged words with the UberEats driver after Thornton received his meal at a Buckhead apartment complex around 11:00pm on Saturday. Thornton was shot “several times” and was taken to a local hospital where he eventually died of his wounds.
The local NBC affiliate in Atlanta reports that Thornton recently graduated from Morehouse College with a degree in political science and had just taken a new job.
“We are shocked and saddened by this news,” an Uber spokesperson told Gizmodo in a statement. “We are working with Atlanta Police, and our hearts go out to the families of those involved.”
It’s against Uber company policy for drivers to carry weapons of any kind, though it’s unknown if the company ever conducts random checks to see if its drivers are complying. Uber’s safety policies have been repeatedly criticized in the past for being too lax.
UberEats, an offshoot of the Uber taxi service, establishes contracts with restaurants in major cities to provide delivery drivers. UberEats drivers are often Uber taxi drivers as well. The UberEats service has expanded rapidly in every major US city, competing in an already crowded market of third-party delivery services like Seamless, GrubHub, and Postmates.
Drivers for UberEats are considered independent contractors rather than employees of Uber, though they must pass a basic background check. Uber’s global taxi service has seen its fair share of murder and assault by drivers since it was launched by former CEO Travis Kalanick in 2009, but this is believed to be the first death at the hands of an UberEats delivery driver.
Gizmodo has reached out to the Atlanta Police Department for more information about the investigation and will update this post when we hear back.
[WSB-TV Atlanta and 11 Alive]