Uber driver fatally shoots passenger on Denver highway, police say

DENVER, Colo. -- An Uber driver shot and killed a passenger on an interstate in Denver early Friday morning, police said.

Denver police identified the suspect as 29-year-old Michael Andre Hancock.

The shooting happened at about 2:47 a.m. as the vehicle passed over the University Boulevard bridge and forced the closure of southbound Interstate 25 for more than five hours.

After crossing the bridge over University Blvd., the silver Nissan veered off the road and slammed into a wall on the on-ramp.

According to the probable cause statement released by Denver police, a witness called 911 and said he saw a man slumped over in the passenger seat of a silver sedan on the side of the road. The witness said the driver told him he was an Uber driver and his passenger tried to attack him, so he shot the passenger. The witness then handed the phone to the driver, who identified himself as Hancock.

Police arrived at the scene and found the passenger lying on the passenger-side foot well of the Nissan suffering from gunshot wounds. Police performed CPR before Denver Health Paramedics arrived. The man was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Hancock was placed into handcuffs and an officer removed a semiautomatic pistol from his waistband, according to the statement.

Hancock was also taken to a hospital because he said he was having trouble breathing.

A detective found 10 spent 40-caliber cartridges on the left shoulder of the freeway near University Boulevard. A trail of blood was also found nearby.

Police spokesman Sonny Jackson said detectives confirmed Hancock worked for the ride-sharing company. The shooting is being treated as a homicide. The passenger has not been identified.

Police have been in contact with Uber, Jackson said.

Uber has a policy that prohibits its drivers from carrying firearms while driving passengers.

"We are all deeply troubled by the events in Denver today," Uber said in a statement. "Our thoughts are with the families of those involved and we will continue working closely with police."

Friday afternoon, Uber confirmed Hancock had access to the app for nearly three years. It also said the incident "appears to be associated with an on-app trip."

Hancock's father, also named Michael Hancock, described his son as a sweetheart.

"He's a Christian kid and he's all about making the world a better place," Hancock's father told KDVR.

Hancock said his son is a great husband and father.

"I wish I had been that attentive to my kids," the elder Hancock said.

The senior Michael Hancock said his son was commonly referred to as "Mikey." He said Mikey lives with his wife and two kids at the older Michael's home in Aurora. Mikey's father confirmed his son drives for Uber and generally works for the company at night. He added that Mikey also works as a counselor at a troubled boys' home and attends college classes.

Mikey's father said his son has a permit to carry a gun. He said that before the shooting, Mikey went to a movie with his wife and then began driving for Uber.

The office of Mayor Michael B. Hancock confirmed the suspect is not related to the mayor.