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Family, Friends Remember Slain Cab Driver

LAS VEGAS -- Less than a week after the death of a Las Vegas taxi driver, a group of cab drivers are concerned and are paying closer attention to who is in their backseat.

Thirty-year-old Tesfaye Arze was shot and killed after an apparent robbery last Friday. A candlelight vigil was held in his honor Wednesday. Arze's family and fellow drivers honored his life as many put a spotlight on his profession.

"We have funny people, aggressive people," said driver Asiwome Fiati.

It's not his dream job, Fiati drives a taxi out of necessity. He shares the threats he sees everyday on streets while driving his cab.

"Any particular time for a cab driver can be dangerous. Whoever wants to commit a crime can choose anytime," he said.

A driver can only deny a ride for three reasons: if a passenger is drunk, if they don't give a specific destination, or they look like they pose a immediate threat. Fiati says still, if he is uncomfortable, he won't go.

"I'd rather break the law and get a fine than risk my life," he said.

After 13 years, Stephen Lennett has never had an incident. He credits his experience of identifying red flags.

"Its pretty much instinct," he said. "You can feel them out and have a general sense of, 'Hmm, this possibly could turn out bad.'"

Technology like surveillance cameras and distress signals has been developed -- even techniques to alert dispatcher of the need for emergency help. Credit card machines in cabs are also equipped with GPS. But drivers say they don't guarantee safety.

Drivers held a moment of silence for the victim during a training at the Taxicab Authority. Every time they renew their permit, they're required to get a refresher on being safe.

"Driving a taxi is a very dangerous job, potentially. We want to make sure we're minimizing that potential," said Elisabeth Daniels with the TA.

In 2010, there were 25 million taxi rides in Las Vegas. Out of them, there were 63 assaults and 20 robberies. Arze's death is the first murder of a Las Vegas taxi driver in seven years.