A taxi driver's brutal shooting during an apparent robbery Saturday night has left his fellow cab drivers in shock at the loss of a friend and on edge that the killer is still at large.
"Until they catch whoever did it, we're prime targets," said Dean Davis, the 56-year-old owner of Diamond Taxi. "You never thought it would happen in a town like this."
Talent resident William Roy Huson, known as "Huey" by other taxi drivers, was shot in the head sometime after 10:40 p.m. Saturday. His body was dumped in a field on Helo Drive, west of the intersection of Vilas Road and Highway 62, according to Medford police.
Huson, who turned 58 on Saturday, had last reported in with Valley Cab and Limousine near Howiee's on Front in downtown Medford, police said.
Huson told his dispatcher he was taking a fare to Vilas Road. Valley Cab called police at 1:02 a.m. to report he was missing.
Officers found Huson's taxi at 5:02 a.m. Sunday in a parking lot near Ninth and Almond streets, just east of Interstate 5 near downtown Medford. Police would only say that investigators discovered evidence in the car that indicated a serious crime had occurred. Separate sources said the inside of the car was blood-soaked.
After investigators found the car, they searched the area near Vilas Road, finding Huson's body in a field at 8:23 a.m. with a gunshot wound to his head. Police released a description of a possible suspect Monday evening (see related story) and were asking anyone who was in the vicinity of Howiee's Saturday night to call 541-770-4783 or to make an anonymous tip at www.tipsubmit.com.
Davis, who plans to get a concealed handgun license to protect himself, said Huson had been both a dispatcher and driver over the years and was well-known among other cab drivers.
"He was just a good guy," he said. "It was a sad day yesterday for all the cab drivers."
Davis said taxi drivers will be on edge until the killer is caught. In the meantime, Davis said, he will have customers sit in the front seat at night to keep a better eye on them.
Alice Scott, who works with Davis at Diamond Taxi, said she considered Huson to be her best friend, noting he taught her the ropes of being a cab driver 17 years ago.
"There was nothing about Huey that you didn't like," said the 39-year-old Ashland resident.
After Scott found out Huson was missing, she searched for him around 1 a.m, Sunday in the Vilas Road area.
"He wasn't in the greatest health, she said. "I wasn't sure if he had a heart attack and went off the road."
Scott said she last talked to Huson sometime after 10 p.m., a little more than a half hour before he took his last fare.
"We had a cigarette together," she said. "He said 'I love you — see you downtown.' "
Valley Cab dispatch called him, notifying him that he had a call, but instead he stopped to pick up a fare who flagged him down outside Howiee's, Scott said.
She said she thinks that more than one person must have been involved in the homicide because Huson weighed more than 400 pounds and would have been very difficult to move out of the taxi.
According to what she learned from police, Scott said, it appears that Huson was shot inside the taxi.
Scott said Huson grew up in the valley and his wife and sister live in the area. He also has two older children who live elsewhere.
"He wasn't just a cab driver," Scott said. "He was an incredible man."
She said she doesn't think Huson would have resisted if he were being robbed.
"All they had to do is take his money, his rings and his jewelry," she said. "He loved his bling."
Scott said Huson didn't carry a weapon, other than a pocket knife.
Cab drivers, who may organize a funeral procession to commemorate Huson, are going to be on the lookout for his killer.
"I hope the cops find him before we do," Scott said.
Valley Cab and Limousine sent out a brief statement Monday expressing shock and sorrow for fellow cab drivers and for the community.
"Our deep-felt condolences, prayers and support are with the Huson family at this time," the statement read.
Valley Cab has set up a donation fund at South Valley Bank & Trust, in Bill 'Huey' Huson's name, to help his family. Contributions can be made at any South Valley Bank & Trust branch.
John Christensen, a 69-year-old Medford man who drives for Veterans Cab, said he'll be more on his toes in the future.
"I'll tell you, it makes you a little on edge," he said.
Christensen said he's been robbed a few times at gunpoint in his career as a taxi driver that started in 1967. "It's a rough job," he said.
Christensen said he's known Huson for years, describing him as friendly and outgoing.
"He was a pretty happy-go-lucky guy," he said.
Medford police Chief Tim George said eight tips have been received as part of the investigation. He said the tips, video surveillance and forensic analysis are all being used to help track the suspect.
"Chances are someone didn't even know they were talking to the individual," George said.
An autopsy also is pending, he said.
The owner of Howiee's has been helping investigators look for any leads on the suspect.
Howiee Hawkins said he couldn't see much in his videos that shed any light on the activities on the sidewalk Saturday night. However, investigators trained in reviewing the videos checked them out Monday and were taking them in for further analysis. They also have obtained videos from other nearby businesses.
Hawkins said he didn't notice anything out of the ordinary Saturday night.
"It was just a mellow crowd," he said.
Hailing a cab would hardly register with anyone inside the bar, Hawkins said.
The only unusual event inside was a brief celebration for one of the bartender's birthdays.
"People were saying, 'Hey, happy birthday,' " to me about the time the cab came by," said 48-year-old Paula Teige, who shares the same birthday as Huson.
She said she wished she could remember anything that would provide information about the suspect.
"It's sad that I can't think of anything that would help," she said.
Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or email email@example.com.