CUTLER BAY (CBSMiami) – A Lyft driver who says he was brutally beaten while picking up a passenger on Thursday is speaking out, saying he has “no idea” why he was suddenly attacked.
The face of the victim, Chris Veverka, is badly bruised. His left eye is almost swollen shut and he can barely see out of it.
In an exclusive interview with CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, Veverka said, “I am very confused. I don’t know what happened to this guy. He appeared to be intimidated. I have no idea why he did this.
“I’ve been doing this for about a year and this is the first time I had an incident there and I have even dropped off people before at the house. Now I don’t feel safe in this area.”
The suspect, 47-year-old Justin Burt, appeared in bond court on Friday. He is charged with burglary with assault or battery and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He is being held without bond.
Police say the attack happened outside Burt’s home at SW 193rd St. and Whispering Pines Road. They say it happened when Burt’s ex-girlfriend was leaving the home and he was begging her not to leave.
“A female passenger came out of the house and then he came out and he picked up a paving stone and he threatened to throw it,” said Veverka. “He went like this at my car. I told him to put it down.
“Then he had words with the girl and was chasing her and then he went to the passenger side and opened my door and jumped in and started hitting me in the head.”
He was hit multiple times around the face.
Veverka, who is also a part-time karate instructor, told D’Oench that he was unable to defend himself.
“I was strapped in by a seatbelt and there was no way I could fight back,” he said.
Veverka said he planned to continue his work as both a Lyft and Uber driver.
“You hope this never happens to you again.” Said D’Oench.
“I hope not,” said Veverka.
“What would you like to say to the suspect in this case?” asked D’Oench.
“I just want to know what was going on his mind,” said Veverka.
Veverka, who is a grandfather, said he had been with the Florida Highway Patrol for 30 years and said nothing like this ever happened to him before.
His son, Brandon Veverka, said, “This is not right. My Dad works two jobs and he does his best. This is not fair what happened to him. He works hard for his money.”
Records show that Burt had been arrested before for minor infractions including disorderly intoxication and possessing marijuana.
Veverka has no broken bones and said a doctor told him he should have no permanent damage to his eyes.