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Teen arrested in killing of Lyft driver in Chesterfield

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Posted at 11:32 PM, Jan 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-30 16:01:24-05

Bernard E. Smith (PHOTO: Chesterfield Police)

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Bernard E. Smith, 18, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felon in connection to the January 28 shooting of 79-year-old Lyft driver Franklin Farrens.

Crime Insider sources told Jon Burkett whoever killed Farrens had ties to the Providence Creek area in Chesterfield, and could even live nearby.

Smith lives along the 2900 block of Providence Creek Road, the same block in which Farrens was killed.

On Thursday, Smith appeared via video conference for an arraignment hearing. The judge in the case appointed an attorney for Smith. He is being held without bond.

Ronald Moss, who lives two doors down from Farrens’ home, said he was aware his elderly neighbor drove for Lyft.  Moss was a cab driver for eight years and says it can be a dangerous job.

He was robbed at gunpoint in Petersburg two years ago.

"One of them pointed the gun at me right here and I threw my hands up and let it happen," said Moss.

Crime Insider sources confirm the Lyft app was used to summons Farrens before his murder. He was shot to death 25 miles from his Chester home.

His car was seen on a nearby home's surveillance video, rolling down Providence Creek Road and hitting parked cars before coming to a stop.

"The location of the wound tells me the suspect was behind him, which tells me the driver was behind the wheel and either drove or rolled away after he was shot,” CBS 6 crime expert Steve Neal, a retired Chesterfield captain, said.

And while Neal has no inside information on this case, he said he believed cell phone and Lyft app data will be crucial in the investigation.

"Since the Lyft driver was not near his own address, it's obvious whoever committed this crime took the ride,” said Neal. “So what police will do now is find out who the app belongs to. If it wasn’t used by the owner, then who used it? They'll investigate that person’s associates and find out who used the app."

Lyft did provide us with a statement: “We are deeply saddened by this tragic incident and our hearts are with Franklin's family and friends during this difficult time. We take all matters involving safety extremely seriously and are working with law enforcement to assist with the investigation.”

Smith is being held without bond.

His next court hearing is set for March 2, 2020.

Watch for Jon Burkett's exclusive Crime Insider reports weeknights on CBS 6 News at 11 p.m.

Watch for Jon Burkett's exclusive Crime Insider reports weeknights on CBS 6 News at 11 p.m.

Watch for Jon Burkett's exclusive Crime Insider reports weeknights on CBS 6 News at 11 p.m.