Murder of pregnant Lyft driver shakes rideshare driver community

TEMPE, Ariz. (FOX 10) -- The deadly stabbing of a pregnant Lyft driver has truly shaken the community of rideshare drivers.

The incident happened early Sunday morning, and the suspect, identified as 20-year-old Fabian Durazo, was arrested near Quartzite. He has since made his first court appearance in La Paz County, and will eventually be brought back to Maricopa County. FOX 10 has learned Tuesday that Durazo took classes at Arizona State University for one academic year, beginning in the fall of 2016.

As for rideshare drivers, there are thousands of them in the state, and this tragedy has some of them thinking twice about a job that requires them to allow a perfect stranger in their car.

Sherry Wilson has been driving for Uber and Lyft for more than three years, and she says she is looking at other ways to make money to support her and her disabled husband.

"I feel it's becoming a very dangerous business," said Wilson, in chat and message boards for rideshare drivers,

The murder of 39-year-old Kristina Howato is dominating the conversation.

"I know a lot of driver's, women especially, have thought about quitting, or their husbands or families just don't feel like it's safe enough," said Wilson. "In fact, my daughter went out and brought me some mace, and I'm not sure if we're allowed to have that or not."

Uber and Lyft policies prohibit drivers from carrying weapons, mainly guns. Uber's policy specifically deals with firearms, where Lyft reserves the judgment on what constitutes a weapon.

Lyft's policy clarifies their stance, saying, in part:

"We approach this from a community perspective. It's hard to know what someone else is or isn't comfortable with. The mere presence of a weapon might make another community member distressed and fear for his or her own personal safety."

"Realistically, someone said you should get a gun, and I wouldn't get a gun anyway, but even if I would they could take that gun away and shoot me!" said Wilson.

Passengers are split when it comes to weapons.

"You can go the other way, where drivers become aggressors as well," said Jerry Robinson. "I hope the online stuff takes care of that a little bit with Uber and Lyft management."

"They're basically in their own home, their home as well as their job," said Nick Cerda. "I get it, there are people out there who are against guns, but we live in Arizona."

Wilson says she doesn't have many other employment options that offer the flexibility she finds in being a rideshare driver. She and others spend time figuring out ways to make the job less dangerous.

"Maybe switching to days might be better because I normally work nights, but I don't want this poor woman and her family get forgotten," said Wilson. "Let's not forget about this poor woman. She was just out trying to make a living to have this happen, and it's not right. It's just not right."

Wilson says the shared driver community is organizing a vigil of some kind to honor Howato, using their cars. They are also wanting to raise money for her family. They say as soon as they can coordinate with the family, they will do whatever is needed to help a fellow driver.