Police: Murdered cabbie 'didn't stand a chance' against gunmen



Posted on April 30, 2014 at 5:32 PM

Updated Thursday, May 1 at 2:19 PM

Thanh Truong / Eyewitness News
Email: ttruong@wwltv.com | Twitter: @thanh412

GRETNA, La. -- Three teenagers have been charged in the shooting death of a West Bank cab driver.

Shortly before 8 p.m. Tuesday, Gretna Police say 55-year-old Blake Helmer picked up three passengers near Franklin and Rupp Streets. Investigators say Helmer managed to drive roughly a block and a half before he was shot several times.

"This man didn't stand a chance when a barrage of gunfire erupted from the seats while he was still facing forward," said Anthony Christiana, deputy police chief of the Gretna Police Department.

On Wednesday, Eric Helmer recalled how his big brother Blake was hard working, soft spoken and always generous, especially to the less fortunate.

Blake Helmer had worked for Glenn's Cab Company for more than 20 years. His brother said Helmer was known to give free rides when he could.

"He knew a lot of people were having rough times and all. He didn't charge them when they had nothing," said Eric Helmer.

Blake Helmer was taken to the hospital where he later died. Gretna Police responded quickly and pursued the suspects who took off on foot.

Officers soon captured 17-year-old Jonah Brown, who is now charged with first-degree murder. Investigators also recovered two handguns found near the area Brown was said to be hiding.

After police called relatives and friends of the two other suspects looking for their whereabouts, those suspects turned themselves in early Wednesday morning. Ivory Warren, 18, is charged with first-degree murder. Tavon Corley, 19, is charged with being an accessory to first-degree murder.

"They've been arrested for one of the most heinous crimes that we've seen in the city of Gretna in a while, the flat-out execution of a cab driver," Christiana said.

"It's tough you know, I just can't believe, I just can't believe it," said Eric Helmer.

Glenn Green, the owner of the cab company, said Helmer was originally dispatched to another call at a local Walmart.

Green said that call turned out to be a no-show, and Helmer was then sent to answer the fateful call near Rupp and Franklin Streets.

Green said the criminals were determined to kill someone Tuesday night.

"If Blake's Walmart trip would've picked up he wouldn't have been in this incident, but then somebody would have. What can you do? I mean these guys, they don't have any respect for themselves, they're not going to have respect for anyone else," said Green.

Deputy Police Chief Anthony Christiani said the three suspects are being investigated for several other crimes in Gretna and also in New Orleans.

A memorial fund has been set up by the family. Donate at any area Capital One Bank under the Blake Helmer Memorial Fund.