Tag Archives: Peter Rodriguez

Maspeth street co-named George Gibbons Jr. Way


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

For the past few years teary eyes and frowns were a familiar sight when talking about the hit-and-run murder of Maspeth resident George Gibbons.

Gibbons, who owned Gibbons Home bar on 69th Street, was killed in a 2011 traffic accident and it took a month-long manhunt to catch his murderer, Peter Rodriguez.

But at a ceremony on Saturday to co-name the street where Gibbons grew up in his honor, there was a different emotion. Smiles and laughter spread throughout the crowd of family members and friends as Gibbon’s father, George Sr., tugged numerous times at the white sheet of paper covering the new street sign, but failed to pull it off. And then, with a big final heave, he jerked the sheet off the brand new George Gibbons Jr. Way sign to a roar of cheers from the audience.

“It’s a very special day for us, we’re very excited,” said Gibbons’ sister Siobhan McEntee. “We hope that this sign will be a reminder to people of a good community leader as well as the importance of traffic laws.”

Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, who drafted legislation to get the street co-named, the Gibbons family and more than a 100 friends attended the ceremony to pay tribute to the memory of the late Gibbons, who many said had one of the kindest hearts the world had ever known.

“He was like a brother. He would give you the shirt off his back,” said Tony Kalpin, Gibbons’ friend. “If you’re emotional and you’ve got something on your mind, he was the person you could go and talk to.”

Gibbons was killed on October 15, 2011 when the livery cab he was traveling in was struck by a car that Rodriguez was driving the wrong way on the Long Island Expressway service road. Gibbons was taken to Elmhurst Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. But Rodriguez left the scene of the accident and was on the run before he was caught in Connecticut.

Rodriguez was sentenced to three and a half to up to seven years in prison in May 2012 after he pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of a crime and negligent homicide.

Gibbons’ death brought the Maspeth community together and exposed dangerous loopholes in New York’s traffic laws. Since then the family and Crowley have been fighting to get tougher laws for leaving the scene of a crime.

“We’re just trying to make sure we are strengthening laws,” Crowley said. “[Rodriguez] was a coward and ran away, and had to be caught.”

Gibbon’s bar was closed down temporarily after his death, but reopened under family management. His memory runs through it and now his street sign as well.

“He’s definitely here,” McEntee said. “He’s definitely always around us, we know that.”


 

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Peter Rodriguez sentenced in death of George Gibbons


| brennison@queenscourier.com

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The trial of the man that killed George Gibbons may have concluded, but friends and family are ensuring that Gibbons’ legacy will live on.

More than 100 supporters, all donning green in solidarity, gathered on the steps of Queens Criminal Court on Monday, May 7 following the sentencing of Peter Rodriguez, who last month pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of a crime and negligent homicide in Gibbons’ death.

“There is not substantial amount of time Peter Rodriguez can serve that will make it any easier for our family to deal with the loss of our dear George,” said his sister Bernadette of Rodriguez’s sentence of three-and-a-half to seven years in prison, the maximum allowed under the law. The family, along with Councilmember Elizabeth

Crowley, hope Gibbons’ death will be the impetus to lengthen penalties in similar crimes.
“The law needs to be strengthened to penalize those who break it, but right now our system fails to adequately hold criminally negligent-drivers accountable for their actions,” Crowley said. “I will continue to work with the Gibbons family and the Maspeth community to call on the State Assembly to pass and Governor [Andrew] Cuomo to sign this important bill.”

The bill, which has passed the Senate, would elevate leaving the scene of a crime in which a death occurred from a class D felony to a class C felony, which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

“We hope that in carrying on George’s tradition of helping others and being an active community member –along with Councilmember Crowley and her office — that in the future if an accident like this were to occur again that we would be able to change the law and make George’s legacy continue on in the future,” Bernadette said. “Maybe with a harsher sentence families will have a little bit more of a content feeling after leaving the courtroom in a situation such as this.”

Gibbons, owner of Gibbons’ Home in Maspeth, was killed on the morning of October 15, 2011 when the cab he was traveling home in was struck by Rodriguez’s vehicle — traveling the wrong way on the Long Island Expressway’s service road.

“I’m not happy about it,” George Gibbons Sr. said of the abbreviated sentence, “but that’s the law and until we can get it changed we’ll have to do with it and come back when [Rodriguez] is up for parole.”

‘Justice for George’


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Though nothing will bring him back, we hope that George Gibbons’ family can sleep a little easier at night knowing that the man responsible for his death will face the maximum sentence allowed under the law.

It was last October that Gibbons, 37, was killed heading home from work when the livery cab he was traveling in was struck by a Chrysler Sebring, allegedly driven by Peter Rodriguez, traveling the wrong way on the eastbound side of the Long Island Expressway service road.
Rodriguez, 37, of Brooklyn, and his passenger fled the scene, and the Gibbons family was left to pick up the pieces of a shattered life.

Not only did the grieving family have to deal with the tragic loss, but they had to carry on with the business, Gibbons’ Home bar in Maspeth.

Luckily, they were bolstered by the love of a community.

As Rodriguez remained on the lam, neighbors and Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley rallied to find “Justice for George,” plastering wanted posters offering a $10,000 reward throughout Queens.

Two days after a rally in Maspeth, Rodriguez was apprehended in Connecticut by the U.S. Marshals New York/New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force following an anonymous tip to the New York City Police Department’s Crime Stoppers hotline.

“In the coming months, we will continue to fight together to make sure that whoever chooses to leave the scene of a crime will face much stiffer penalties,” said Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley.

Now, six months later, Rodriguez has finally owned up to his crime, pleading guilty to criminally negligent homicide and a felony violation of leaving the scene without reporting.
At his sentencing on May 7, Justice Chin-Brandt indicated that she would sentence Rodriguez to three-and-a-half to seven years in prison — the maximum allowed under the law.

“We will never be satisfied with the amount of time that he is realistically going to serve in jail,” said Bernadette Gibbons, George’s sister. “It is very unfortunate that career criminals like himself get away with multiple slaps on the wrist.”

We say Kudos — not only to Chin-Brandt for her execution of justice, but to whomever the anonymous, and very brave, tipster was.

There should be more courageous people out there who stand up, speak out and do what’s right.

Thanks to those who did, it seems that in this case, at least, the system worked, and “Justice for George” has been served.

Peter Rodriguez, driver in fatal hit-and-run pleads guilty


| brennison@queenscourier.com

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Peter Rodriguez, the driver in a wrong-way accident that took the life of a beloved Maspeth bar owner, pleaded guilty recently to criminally negligent homicide and now faces up to seven years in jail, though that is of little solace for his family.

George Gibbons, owner of Gibbons’ Home, was killed on the morning of October 15, 2011 when the cab he was traveling home in was struck by Rodriguez’s vehicle — traveling the wrong way on the Long Island Expressway’s service road.

Rodriguez, who has been held without bail since his November arrest, pleaded guilty to negligent homicide and leaving the scene of the fatal hit-and-run crash in court on Friday, April 20.

“We will never be satisfied with the amount of time that he is realistically going to serve in jail,” said Bernadette Gibbons, George’s sister. “It is very unfortunate that career criminals like himself get away with multiple slaps on the wrist.”

Rodriguez had been convicted of four felonies prior to this case.

“Our community came together to fight for justice for George and, now that Peter Rodriguez is behind bars, we can finally say that our streets are safer. In the coming months, we will continue to fight together to make sure that whoever chooses to leave the scene of a crime will face much stiffer penalties,” said Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, who helped organize a “Justice for George” rally to aid in the search for Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, who will be sentenced on Monday, May 7, faces between three-and-a-half to seven years in prison, according to the district attorney’s office.

“Teenagers are in high school longer than Rodriguez will probably be in state prison, and that is a shame,” Gibbons said. “I wonder how many more people will be hurt by his careless actions before the law decides to recognize the danger that he poses to society.”

Gibbons said there is nothing that can prepare a family for sitting in a courtroom staring at a man who robbed the life of a loved one.

“I think after we make our impact statement to Peter Rodriguez and to the court on May 7, we will finally feel some sort of relief,” said Gibbons, who added they will never have closure. “Through our words we can only hope that Judge [Dorothy] Chin-Brandt will understand our pain and recognize that this should be the final straw for Rodriguez. It is time that not only our family receives justice for George, but that the Queens community obtains justice for the man that was stolen from them far too early.”

Gibbons’ Home reopened


| brennison@queenscourier.com

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When George Gibbons was killed on his way home from his bar, Maspeth not only lost a beloved friend, but also a popular pub.

Nearly five months after the fatal accident that took his life, Gibbons’ Home reopened its doors at the end of February.

“The reopening was a huge success. I think that the time we were closed made not only our family, but also our regular patrons and friends, realize what a great place Georgie left us with that had to be continued,” said Bernadette Gibbons, George’s sister.

Gibbons was killed heading home from work on the morning of October 15 when the livery cab he was traveling in was struck by a Chrysler Sebring, allegedly driven by Peter Rodriguez, traveling the wrong way on the eastbound side of the Long Island Expressway service road at 58th Road.

The community and Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley rallied to find “Justice for George,” plastering wanted posters offering a $10,000 reward throughout Queens.

Two days after a rally in Maspeth, Rodriguez was apprehended in Connecticut.

“The community has gone above and beyond for our family in more ways than one,” Bernadette said. “They have been so supportive to our place of business as well as to our family both emotionally and also physically at each court hearing.”

Rodriguez has been charged with a series of crimes, the most serious of which is manslaughter in the second degree.

The help in healing that reopening the bar provides is not without its pitfalls.

“The grand reopening of course carried with it a great deal of emotions, but at the end of the day our family was so thrilled to be back and to see all the familiar faces that we had missed for the time that we were closed,” Bernadette said. “Losing Georgie was horrific enough for our family and we are so so so so lucky to be left with a part of him because I truly believe he is still there with us each night.”

The whole family has lent a hand in running the business; George had five brothers and sisters who have tended to the bar.

“We are looking forward to the coming days, weeks, months and years at the Gibbons’ Home and to creating one million more memories with the fabulous community.”

 

[UPDATE] Suspect arrested for George Gibbons’ hit-and-run


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Billy Rennison.

Only two days after Maspeth residents rallied demanding “Justice for George,” the suspect wanted in connection with the hit-and-run that killed George Gibbons was apprehended in Connecticut, according to police.

Peter Rodriguez was taken into custody in Connecticut by the Regional Fugitive Task Force one month to the day after the accident.  The suspect was identified by police on October 25.

At the November 13 rally, where thousands of wanted posters were distributed and placed throughout the surrounding neighborhoods, Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley urged the community to stay vigilant and assured the crowd that Rodriguez would be found.

More than 100 members of the community, many wearing “Justice for George” T-shirts, gathered at 69th Street and Grand Avenue in Maspeth on Sunday — just blocks from Gibbons’ Home bar — to lend support in finding Rodriguez.

“We must come together, not only as a community, but as a city, to find this fugitive, to bring him to justice and to give a little bit of peace to the Gibbons family,” said Crowley at the rally.

Gibbons was killed on the morning of October 15 when the livery cab he was traveling in was struck by a Chrysler Sebring, allegedly driven by Rodriguez, traveling the wrong way on the eastbound side of the Long Island Expressway service road.

The 37 year old was taken to Elmhurst General Hospital and pronounced dead upon arrival, police said.

Rodriguez left the scene of the accident and was on the run for one month before his apprehension.  Over the past month, he had reportedly been sighted on Metropolitan Avenue, Woodhaven Boulevard, Middle Village and the Bushwick area.

Bernadette Gibbons, George’s sister, called the support she and the family received from the community “amazing.”

“I don’t even have words to express the gratitude I have towards our friends and family in the community. We’re just so grateful. We expect nothing less for George,” she said.

Earlier this month, a $10,000 reward was announced for a tip that led to Rodriguez’s arrest.

“It’s clear how much support the Gibbons family has. Our community has been hurt so much by the loss of somebody who contributed so much to Maspeth,” Crowley said of George, who she added was loved and adored by so many.

[UPDATE] Peter Rodriguez apprehended in Connecticut


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photos by Billy Rennison

[UPDATE] According to police, Peter Rodriguez has been apprehended in Connecticut by the Regional Fugitive Task Force.

They came to demand “Justice for George.”

On Sunday, November 13, over 100 members of the community, many wearing “Justice for George” T-shirts, gathered at 69th Street and Grand Avenue in Maspeth — just blocks from Gibbons’ Home bar — to lend support in finding Peter Rodriguez, the alleged fugitive hit-and-run driver that killed George Gibbons.

“We must come together, not only as a community, but as a city, to find this fugitive, to bring him to justice and to give a little bit of peace to the Gibbons family,” said Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley.

Gibbons was killed on the morning of October 15 when the livery cab he was traveling in was struck by a Chrysler Sebring, allegedly driven by Rodriguez, traveling the wrong way on the eastbound side of the L.I.E. service road.

Gibbons was taken to Elmhurst General Hospital and pronounced dead upon arrival, police said.

Now, a month after the accident, Rodriguez is still on the run and has been seen recently in the area. “He’s been spotted reportedly after he committed this crime,” Crowley said. “We need the people of the city of New York to help us help the police find this person.”

Crowley mentioned reported sightings on Metropolitan Avenue, Woodhaven Boulevard and in Middle Village and the Bushwick area.

“We not only want your help, we need your help,” said Bernadette Gibbons, George’s sister.

She called the support from the community amazing.

“I don’t even have words to express the gratitude I have towards our friends and family in the community. We’re just so grateful. We expect nothing less for George.”

Earlier this month a $10,000 reward was announced for a tip that leads to Rodriguez’s arrest, and on Sunday, November 13, thousands of wanted flyers with the suspect’s picture were printed and distributed to canvass the area.

“It’s clear how much support the Gibbons family has. Our community has been hurt so much by the loss of somebody’s who contributed so much to Maspeth,” Crowley said of Gerorge, who she added was loved and adored by so many.

“We’ll all stay ever-vigilant until we find Peter Rodriguez,” Crowley said. “And Peter we’re going to find you. You might as well come and turn yourself in and finally do the right thing for once.”

 

 

Queens’ Morning Roundup – 11/14/2011: Livery Cab Driver Shot Dead In Far Rockaway


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Man Killed In Richmond Hill Car Crash

Police said a man was killed when his car slammed into a tree in front of a Queens hospital and burst into flames early Sunday morning. According to police, the unidentified man was speeding southbound down the Van Wyck Expressway about 2:15 a.m. when he tried to exit at Atlantic Avenue and lost control of his BMW. Read More: Fox News

Police Continue Search For Hit-And-Run Suspect

The family of hit-and-run victim George Gibbons joined Council Member Eliazbeth Crowley (D-Queens) to assist the NYPD in the efforts to apprehend suspect Peter Rodriguez. The 37-year-old Gibbons was a passenger of a livery cab when he was killed after the Lincoln Town Car he was in was slammed by a Chrysler Sebring that was driving in the wrong direction. Read More: Fox News

Livery Cab Driver Shot Dead In Far Rockaway; Reward Offered For Capture of Killer

Sunday of a livery cab driver found slumped over the wheel of his car with a bullet in his head and clutching a wad of cash. Relatives of Patrick Hall, a 30-year-old father of three, called the shooting “senseless,” and cops said the killer walked away from the 7:30 a.m. bloodshed in Far Rockaway without a cent. Read More: Daily News

“Occupy” Protester Interrupts Congressman Turner’s Local Swearing-In Ceremony

Occupy Wall Street protestors made an unexpected appearance at Congressman Bob Turner’s ceremonial swearing-in on Sunday in his district Queens. Months after he took office, the Republican took an oath before a large crowd at Queens Metropolitan High School in Forest Hills. Read More: NY1

Woodhaven Man Charged With Killing Neighbor

A Queens man was arraigned on murder and weapons charges in connection with the death of his neighbor in Woodhaven. Police say Mustafa Omran, 53, lived upstairs from Yasmen Rabban on 91st Avenue. Authorities were called to Rabban’s apartment last month after she had not been heard from in a while. When they got to the apartment, they found Rabban dead, with puncture wounds to her neck. Read More: NY1

Queens Swastika Graffiti Suspect Arraigned On Four Counts Of Criminal Mischief

A 40-year-old man was arraigned on hate crime charges in Queens Saturday. Franco Rodriguez is being held on $5,000 bail for allegedly painting swastikas on several buildings. He did not enter a plea during his court appearance. Rodriguez has been charged with four counts of malicious mischief, all as hate crimes. Police sources say he was identified on video surveillance. Read More: NY1

State Ban On Smoking At Outdoor Commuter Rail Platforms Takes Effect

A new state law that bans smoking on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s outdoor commuter rail platforms, including Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road stations, took effect Sunday. Smokers now face a $50 fine for breaking the rule. MTA police officers will give out warnings before they start writing tickets. The agency said the ban promotes a healthier, cleaner environment and reduces the chance of a track fire. Read More: NY1

Plans pitched to turn landmark New York State Pavilion into multi-million-dollar air museum   
Author Jeannette Remak wants to re-fashion the New York State Pavilion — built for the 1964 World’s Fair but left vacant for decades — into a tourist hotspot where vintage airplanes hang from the ceiling. Remak has support from the Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology in East Elmhurst, which has offered interns to help run the museum. Read More: Daily News

Police seek driver in crash killing Maspeth bar owner


| brennison@queenscourier.com

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Police are seeking the public’s help in finding the driver of a car that was involved in an accident that took the life of a Maspeth bar owner.

The accident occurred on at approximately 6:45 a.m. Saturday, October 15, when a 2002 Sebring traveling in the wrong direction on the Long Island Expressway service road at 58th Road struck a livery cab killing the passenger, George Gibbons.

The driver, Peter Rodriguez, 36, fled the scene following the crash.

Gibbons who owned Gibbons’ Home on 69th Street in Maspeth was pronounced dead on arrival at Elmhurst Hospital.

The Sebring’s passenger, Andre McKanney, 44, of Brooklyn was also taken to Elmhurst Hospital in stable condition. McKanney was arrested and charged with marijuana possession.

Anyone with information in regard to this incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

All calls are strictly confidential.