Taxi Driver and Passenger Beat Man to Death During Parking Lot Squabble, Avondale Cops Say

In an apparent parking-lot-rage incident, a taxi driver and his passenger are accused by police of beating a man to death as the victim's horrified wife watched.

The act of impulsive violence erupted about 5:15 p.m. on Saturday at 1459 North Dysart Road, as the AAA Taxi pulled out of a parking space, court records state.

Passenger Shawn King, 47, had hired the cab to drive him from his Avondale home to pick up some medications in Buckeye. Along the way, King asked driver Gary Mayo -- who had picked King up several times in the past -- to stop off at a smokeshop for some tobacco.

The taxi reportedly nearly hit a Kia SUV as it pulled out, and the 45-year-old Mayo began swearing at the Kia's driver.

James Fournier, 57, out on a shopping trip with his wife and their grandchild, whose age wasn't given in court records, stopped and got out of his vehicle.

Linda Fournier, 51, told police her husband intended to tell the cab driver that "it was not polite to say those types of things to his wife."

When James stepped out of his SUV, the cab's driver-side door flew open and Mayo jumped out with an "evil look in his eye," Linda Fournier told police. The heavyset cab driver began pummeling her husband. She locked her door in the Kia out of fear for her own safety.

Witnesses told police that both Mayo and King threw punches at James Fournier. Court records state that Fournier collapsed to the ground, where Mayo allegedly kicked and "stomped" Fournier's head.

Then the pair hopped back in the cab and drove off.

Fournier was driven from the scene by paramedics, but was pronounced dead about an hour after the attack had begun.

Police called AAA Taxi service and tracked the location of Mayo's cab using GPS signals. He pulled over near 107th Avenue and Van Buren Street as cops closed in. They took Mayo into custody and a little while later, King strolled up to the scene. He'd been dropped off at his home by Mayo, but his sister had learned of the incident and told him where Mayo had been arrested.

Cops are recommending a first-degree murder charge for Mayo and a second-degree murder charge for King.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.