A CABBIE has spoken of the heart-stopping moment he was shot at by hidden”bandits”.
Shamas Farooq said shots which shattered a side window and cracked the windscreen could have cost his and other road users’ lives.
He claims pellets from an air pistol hit his Mercedes-Benz Vito as he was driving down Kings Road in the Bolton area of the city at about 8pm last Saturday, near the junction with Brisbane Avenue.
He had just dropped off two passengers and the road was quieter than normal, otherwise it could have ended in tragedy, said Mr Farooq, who works for Dial A Ride.
He said be believed what were shots came from a small wooded area near the road where two people were hiding.
“They were like bandits, hiding then shooting. I think they were just youngsters but what they did could have been lethal.”
The father-of-two and his boss Billa Afzal, 27, have put out a Facebook appeal and are urging anyone to go to the police if they know their identity.
Mr Afzal said: “I’m worried about our drivers and our passengers’ safety.
“Whoever has done this needs to be caught before it happens again. It could be much more serious next time.”
Mr Farooq, 27, said: “Anyone who has seen anyone around there acting suspicious around 8pm on Saturday needs to go to the police. Someone could have got seriously hurt.
“I’m an experienced driver but if it had been anyone else or a learner driver they could easily have lost control of the wheel.
“My heart nearly stopped when I heard the two loud bangs hit the car. Luckily the road wasn’t too busy and I managed to stop okay.
“There was no-one in the back, otherwise they would have got showered by glass and got badly hurt. There could have been a crash, lives could have been taken.”
Mr Farooq said since putting out the Facebook appeal, customers have been in touch with some branding the culprits “idiots”.
He said one woman who got in touch said she was a bus passenger when the same thing had happened before on the same road.
Bus company First has since told the Telegraph & Argus that it has no record of that happening.
“The police need to find who is responsible for this fast,” said Mr Farooq.
Ward Councillor Rachel Sunderland (Lib Dem, Bolton & Undercliffe) said she was shocked to hear what happened and was also disappointed police had not made local councillors aware.
“It’s a scary thought this has happened and I’m disappointed we have not been told by police if someone is shooting at cars on the main road. I would’ve expected a briefing from them,” she said.
She added: “It’s quite shocking not just for motorists but also for pedestrians who walk up and down that road. We need to find out who it is who has chosen this as their activity. It’s frightening for residents as well, we want it to be a safe area.
“If it’s a group of young people who are messing about with pistols then they are also a danger to themselves. These are dangerous things they are playing with. We really do need to find out who they are as much for their own protection as road users and passers-by.
“I’m just thankful that no one was hurt. This cab driver was just doing his job. He was providing a service to the community and didn’t deserve to be attacked while going about his daily business.”
Fellow Lib Dem ward Councillor Michael Stelling said: “It could be young people just being stupid and not realising the implications of what they are doing.
They need to be caught and dealt with.”
And Councillor David Ward (Ind, Bolton and Undercliffe) said: “This cabd river could have been blinded for life or swerved off the road killed himself or someone else.
“It’s insane. Someone must know who did this and need to report them to the police.”
Mr Farooq said he was disappointed that the police officers who attended his house after he reported the incident failed to examine his car.
A West Yorkshire Police spokesman said: "Police were called at 8.32pm on Saturday after a motorist reported two windows had been damaged while he was driving along Brisbane Avenue.
"He believed the damage to have been caused by someone firing an air weapon from a distance.
"The caller was unable to give any suspect descriptions and no pellets were found in the vehicle. A crime of criminal damage has been recorded."