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Police: Uber driver arrested after attempting to murder police officers

Jonathan Hemming (Montgomery County Police).jpg

An Uber driver with an extensive criminal record has been arrested for allegedly attempting to shoot and kill Montgomery County Police officers with a homemade gun.

Jonathan Hemming, 52, of Gaithersburg, is now facing two counts each of Attempted First Degree Murder and Attempted Second Degree Murder, plus an additional 17 assault, drug and weapons charges.

On Wednesday, May 18, around 3:30 p.m., a swarm of undercover Montgomery County officers surrounded Hemming's car along the 16000 block of Comprint Court in Gaithersburg. Hemming and his wife were leaving a doctor's office at the time. The cops, assigned to the Repeat Offender Unit, were seeking to arrest Hemming on a bench warrant for multiple drug offenses, court documents indicate.

Hemming, however, allegedly resisted, abruptly slamming the front driver's side door of his silver Honda Civic. A dramatic struggle ensued, during which police say Hemming grabbed a homemade handgun capable of firing shotgun rounds from the front passenger glove compartment. The 52-year-old Uber driver then proceeded to point the gun at two detectives' heads, attempting, but unsuccessfully firing the weapon, police say.

After placing Hemming in handcuffs, officers found a needle cap, prescription vial, syringe, rubber tie off straps, live shotgun shells, live handgun rounds, pill bottle, metal pill holder, handcuff key, garden clippers, and pocket knife in his pant pockets. They located a second homemade weapon in his vehicle. According to court documents, during a sit down interview with homicide detectives, Hemming stated he researched how to build firearms online. He also explained that he knew the devices were capable of firing.

ABC7 has learned that Hemming was employed as an Uber driver at the time of his May 18 arrest, assigned to drive the same car officers discovered the handmade firearms stashed inside. ABC7 has also uncovered Hemming's lengthy felony record in Florida, Maryland and Ohio for crimes like weapons possession, arson, armed robbery, burglary, cocaine possession, vehicle theft and malicious destruction of property.

"To have a person of that type of criminal record driving around, it's again, a cause of concern," Uber customer Mario Vanegas stated.

"Your life is in someone's hands when they're driving you so you expect them to have no criminal record or be a model citizen," Uber customer Louis Connor added.

Uber requires that all driver applicants submit to a background check before being approved to drive. So how was Hemming approved? How long had he been driving for? And, what was his driver rating?

ABC7 contacted Uber by email Wednesday, but did not receive an immediate response. So, a news crew attended an unrelated Uber press conference where spokeswoman Meghan Joyce would only tell us: "I can say that we take this responsibility extraordinarily seriously."

Hemming remains in Montgomery County custody on a no-bond status. As of Wednesday afternoon, his silver Honda Civic was parked in the driveway of his Gaithersburg home, with two Uber placards still prominently displayed in the car's rear windows.

UPDATE: After this story aired on ABC7 News at 4 p.m., a second Uber spokeswoman emailed ABC7 with this additional information:

"Upon learning of these allegations, we immediately removed the driver's access to the platform. We have been in contact with law enforcement to assist in their investigation in any way we can."

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