BROWNSVILLE — Orji-Ama Uro, the cabbie fatally stabbed in the eye with an umbrella Thursday afternoon, was a father of five originally from Nigeria who dreamed of owning his own shoe store, his family said Friday.
Uro, 54, who moved to the U.S. a decade ago, lived with two sons and three daughters between the ages of 16 and 23, said Chinedoum Agwu, his sister-in-law.
"I cried so much last night, all the tears are gone," Agwu said Friday from her Rosedale, Queens home. "I spoke to him two days ago."
She described Uro, an East Flatbush resident, as a religious man who attended a Jehovah's Witness church and was "very, very, very hardworking."
"He was a very responsible, dedicated man," said Agwu, 30.
Agwu learned of Uro's death Thursday night, through a series of distraught phone calls, she said.
When his daughter first called, she said only that Uro had an accident, Agwu said.
But five minutes later, she got another phone call and learned of his grisly death, Agwu said.
Uro was driving a man and a woman in Brownsville Thursday evening when they began arguing with him and exited the vehicle, according to police sources. The man opened the passenger side door, reached in and stabbed Uro with the point of his umbrella, and left, sources said. Uro was rushed to Brookdale Hospital and declared dead on arrival, police said.
Police are still searching for the suspects, but have multiple witnesses and a security video of the incident. Uro still had money in his pocket when police found his body, leading them to believe the fight was not a robbery, sources said.
Agwu said that she and other relatives and associates from their hometown in Nigeria — Ekoli Edda Afikto South, in Ebonyi State — had planned to mark Father's Day with Uro at Agwu's home on Sunday.
Agwu said she was excited about having Uro's children over, and was busy readying the house for them, she said.
She planned on making traditional favorites of his homeland, including Uro's favorite dish — fufu bread with spinach, she said.
Though Uro maintained close ties to his African roots, he longed for the American dream, Agwu said.
Uro, who worked as a shoe salesman in Nigeria, wanted to own his own shoe store, Agwu said.
Kevin Arunsi — a close friend and fellow cabbie — said Uro hoped to launch his business in the next year.
"He wanted to quit cab driving," said Arunsi, 44.
Arunsi, who is also from Nigeria, said Uro was "sociable, loving, likes to help people."
"We were very, very good friends," he said. "He was at the dedication of all my children."
Arunsi said he had spoken to Uro "just yesterday" but their conversations had been cut short.
"When he called me in the evening, I was in a place where I couldn't call," he said.
"But I never got to call him back. It happened and he was gone."
As the police continue their search for the two suspects — a man and a women recorded on video arguing with Uro before stabbing him and leaving the scene — those close to Uro are trying to understand why anyone would have killed him.
"These kind of sick [people], they wake up and all they have on their mind is who to hurt," his sister-in-law said.
"What would they get from a cab driver? If he had money, he wouldn't drive a cab."