Prosecutors: Man stabbed taxi driver during ride to airport, torched his vehicle in Wilson Park

Scott Perez

MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee man stands accused of stabbing a private taxi driver during a ride to the airport, and prosecutors said it happened days after he accused a woman of saying the taxi driver's name in her sleep. After the stabbing, prosecutors said the suspect torched the taxi driver's vehicle at Wilson Park.

Scott Perez, 34, faces the following charges:

    According to a criminal complaint, on Aug. 9, a private taxi driver received a call from a blocked number, and the male caller indicated the taxi driver had previously given a ride to a friend, and he was told the taxi driver had good customer service. The caller said he needed a ride to the airport. Later, the taxi driver received a text indicating the individual was waiting for a ride near 37th and Lapham, and the taxi driver said he could pick him up. He drove to the location, and saw a man with a duffel bag. The man entered his vehicle, and indicated he was traveling to Charlotte. The taxi driver said the small talk continued, and the man asked whether he had a wife or girlfriend. He said he did not, but mentioned he had a female friend, and after that, the taxi driver said he was stabbed in the neck with a knife -- near Howell Avenue and Van Norman Avenue.

    The taxi driver said he immediately slammed on the brakes and tried to grab the knife. In doing so, he sustained a serious laceration on his hand. He said he jumped out of his vehicle, which stopped, and the man who stabbed him then got into the driver's seat, as the taxi driver ran for help. The taxi driver was taken to the hospital for treatment of a stab wound to his neck.

    According to the complaint, officers responded to the scene and recovered a black knife handle with the blade broken off. The next day, a citizen told police she was having a rummage sale when a customer came up to her and handed her a broken blade from a knife that he found and didn't want anyone to get hurt with.

    The complaint noted on the day of the knife attack, police were dispatched to Wilson Park for a car fire. At the scene, police found the taxi driver's vehicle, which suffered significant fire damage. A witness said he drove to Wilson Park to make some phone calls and take a nap, and he was woken up by a man pounding on his window, who asked for a lighter, which he gave the man. The man then walked toward a vehicle, before coming back and returning the lighter. He said the man asked for something else, but he didn't understand what it was. He said he opened his trunk, thinking the man might need a jack, but the man shook his head and closed the trunk. Ten minutes later, the witness reported seeing a flickering light inside a black Lincoln, which he thought was flames, and believed the man might have been attempting suicide. He said he went over to the vehicle and the man was standing nearby. The witness said he told the man to call 911, and the man did not react, simply looking at the witness and saying, "It's OK. I'm waiting for someone." The witness said he ran and found a park ranger.

    The vehicle belonging to the witness and the vehicle belonging to the taxi driver were processed for prints, and one from the front passenger door of the burned Lincoln was matched to Perez.

    The taxi driver and the witness from the park identified Perez as the suspect via a photo lineup, the complaint said.

    Perez was in court Monday, Aug. 19 for his initial appearance. Cash bond was set at $50,000, and a preliminary hearing was scheduled for Aug. 29.