Gibbons, a 37-year-old local tavern owner, was innocently riding in the back seat of a cab on the morning of October 15, when a car driving the wrong way on 58th Road in Maspeth hit the cab head-on.
It is quite difficult not to question why it so often seems the innocent people lose their lives in these incidents, and the ones who cause it walk away, but the man police say was driving a late model Sebring, Peter Rodriquez, ran away and is still at large.
The local newspapers and television stations have been reporting the story for two weeks now. His picture has been plastered everywhere, yet there is no sign of Rodriquez.
The frustration of not finding the suspect has led to something truly spectacular in Maspeth, which is well known for its close-knit community, but not necessarily its philanthropy. In cooperation with Crimestoppers, friends of the Gibbons family, local businesses, fraternal clubs, and activists have come up with more than $10,000 as a reward for information leading to Rodriquez.
At a press conference this past Tuesday morning at Maspeth Memorial Square, Councilwoman Liz Crowley was more than visibly upset at the fact that the perpetrator is still on the loose. She, along with her cousin, Congressman Joseph Crowley, and a number of Maspeth leaders who pledged financial support in the form of reward money, are angry that Rodriquez has not been apprehended – despite the fact that “there are plenty of people who know him in town,” said the councilwoman.
Crowley and a few Maspeth leaders started making phone calls on Friday to raise money, and lo and behold, by Tuesday morning people in Maspeth were responding to the call.
Maybe the reward will help catch this guy, maybe not, but in our discussions with those helping in the effort, there is a true sense that the people in this small town are willing to put up money to catch criminals, not just in this case, but in the future as well.
“Why don’t we keep this Crimestopper fund going and use it as a reward for information leading to the arrest of some of the people doing graffiti, or whoever broke all those car windows on Fresh Pond Road a few months ago?” asked one contributor.
Community rewards could be an ongoing program, with offers helping apprehend criminals who cause harm around a neighborhood, not just in Maspeth.
To donate to the reward, checks can be brought to Maspeth Town Hall at 53-37 72nd Street. Checks are payable to the Maspeth Town Hall Gibbons Reward Fund.