Scott Satchfield / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS -- Authorities say the man who killed cab driver William "Billy" Kerner IV on Friday did so while trying to skip paying his fare.
Early Saturday morning, Jefferson Parish Sheriff's deputies arrested 24-year-old Jamario Alexander, charging him with second degree murder.
For Kerner's family, still in shock over the crime, the news brings a slight sense of relief.
"It's not gonna bring Billy back, you know, but certainly the family is very, very happy about the apprehension," said Sheree Kerner, the victim’s sister. "It's a shame that we have to have somebody like that alive, and my brother was such a good person, helped so many people. It's just terrible. It's just not fair."
Officials say Alexander used his own cell phone to call for the cab Friday. After tracking that mobile number, and relying on a witness description of the suspect, detectives found Alexander in Harvey.
"Once he was transported to the detective bureau after waiving his rights, at first he denied any knowledge of the shooting at all, but eventually, he wound up confessing," said JPSO spokesman Col. John Fortunato.
Fortunato said Alexander admitted to shooting Kerner once in the face, inside the taxi.
Kerner tried to get away, but Fortunato says Alexander continued the attack.
"(Alexander) exited the taxi on the back on the rear, and went around the taxi and continued chasing Mr. Kerner, shooting him multiple times in the back," Fortunato said.
It's the second murder of an area cab driver in a little more than a year. Arvil Hicks III was gunned down in the Irish Channel in May 2010 in an apparent robbery.
Kerner's family says concerns over cab drivers' safety has always been an issue. They say Kerner's father, who was once president of United Cab, tried to change that.
"He started a move installing the shields, you know, between the front seat and the back seat and then the drivers, over the years, abandoned it, because they didn't like how impersonal it was, you know, to the passengers,” Sheree Kerner said. “So, they started removing them, and unfortunately in this situation, it probably could've saved Billy."
Visitation for William “Billy” Kerner IV is set for Friday from 10:00 AM until noon at Saint Francis Xavier in Metairie, with funeral services immediately following.
In lieu of flowers, family members are setting up a scholarship fund for Kerner’s children. To donate, call Glen Doming with United Cab at 504.522.0629.