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TWO ARMED ROBBERS THREATEN CABBIE'S LIFE ARREST MADE WITHIN 20 MINUTES

Cabbie Dennis Hopkins felt the shotgun jabbed into his rib cage. Then he felt the revolver pressed at the back of his head, held by a trembling hand.

"Shoot him, shoot him," one of two robbers said.

Then he heard the trigger of the revolver click.

"That's when I got scared," said Hopkins, a Buffalo cab driver who survived a robbery in his taxi at 75 Poultney Ave. early Saturday. "I wasn't shaking until the dude pulled the trigger."

About 20 minutes later, Bailey Station Officers Daniel Smith and Kevin Barberg arrested Sean N. Collier, 18, near Norfolk and Kensington avenues. Collier, whom Hopkins later identified as the robber in the cab's back seat, was carrying a loaded revolver.

Collier, of Thatcher Avenue, was charged with robbery and criminal use of a firearm. Police said they still are looking for the second suspect.

Police said a nearly identical robbery occurred early Thursday at 44 Poultney. That victim, a City Service cab driver, told police that two men armed with a revolver and shotgun robbed him but never pulled the trigger on their guns. No arrests have been made.

Collier's arrest capped what started as a normal night for Hopkins, 36, who has worked as a cab driver for about four months and had never been robbed before.

Based on police reports and an interview with the victim, the following is what transpired:

Responding to a call from his Kenmore Cab dispatcher, Hopkins pulled into the driveway at 75 Poultney at about 12:25 a.m. A man approached the cab from a house on the left and got in the back seat. Another went around to the front, climbed in and stuck a shotgun into the cab driver's ribs.

"This is a stickup," said the man in the passenger seat, reaching into Hopkins' pocket with his one free hand.

"He was yelling: 'Give me your money; don't make no noise or we'll blow your brains out,' " Hopkins said.

The man in the back then wrapped one arm around Hopkins to hold him down and then pointed the revolver at the cab driver's head.

"Are you sure that's all you've got?" demanded the robber in front.

"Shoot him, shoot him," the man in the back yelled, but the man in the front pointing the shotgun did nothing.

Then, the revolver clicked in the back seat.

"I was thinking: Oh, man, not only is he going to rob me; he's going to shoot me," Hopkins said.

Through it all, Hopkins said nothing and didn't struggle with the robbers. When they got what they wanted, the two jumped from the cab and ran into a nearby yard, taking $306 in cab receipts and personal money from Hopkins.

Hopkins then called his dispatcher and sat in his cab, alone and terrified, waiting for the police to arrive.

"All I can figure is that the gun jammed," he said later. "That must have been what happened."

Hopkins said he hasn't been able to sleep since the incident. But he'll be back to work today, for the same reason he started driving a cab in the first place.

"I've got to work," he said. "I'll try to be a little more careful; I'll be sure to keep the passenger side door locked. But I've got to have a job."

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