Suspect in Gibbons hit-and-run death faces manslaughter charge; held without bail

Hundreds of people gathered at the Maspeth Triangle Sunday to help distribute fliers, featuring a photo of Peter Rodriguez, who police said is a suspect in the crash. Photo by Christina Santucci
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The man suspected of killing popular Maspeth bar owner George Gibbons, Jr. last month is being held without bail after being arraigned on manslaughter and other charges Wednesday, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Peter Rodriguez, 36, of Brooklyn, was arrested Tuesday morning in Connecticut after being in hiding for a month following the hit-and-run accident that killed Gibbons, who owned the Gibbons’ Home bar in Maspeth.

“A local business owner tragically lost his life in a hit-and-run crash that also injured two other individuals. It is alleged that the defendant, instead of staying and assisting in anyway he could, fled the scene and remained at large for approximately a month until being apprehended [Tuesday] by authorities,” the DA said in a statement. “The alleged reckless actions displayed by the defendant warrants that this case be vigorously prosecuted.”

Rodriguez was allegedly driving the wrong way Oct. 15 on the Long Island Expressway near 58th Road and hit a livery cab in which Gibbons was riding, according to police. Gibbons was taken to Elmhurst Hospital shortly after the accident, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. He was 37.

Rodriguez was arraigned Wednesday on charges of manslaughter, assault, criminally negligent homicide and leaving the scene without reporting an accident before Queens Criminal Court Judge Gene Lopez, who ordered Rodriguez held without bail.

Rodriguez is next expected to appear in court Dec. 2.

A tip detailing Rodriguez’s whereabouts was received by the NYPD’s Crimestoppers hotline and the Brooklyn man was arrested Tuesday in Connecticut.

Gibbons’ brother, Brendan Gibbons, said he believed Rodriguez was caught as the result of community support given to the family, which included flooding the streets of Maspeth and surrounding neighborhoods with fliers of Rodriguez’s mugshot that offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the Brooklyn man.

“Myself and my family are currently happy to see that he’s in custody,” Brendan Gibbons said Tuesday. “At least it gives us some sort of justice to see that he’s not roaming the streets. Obviously, we have a long road ahead of us, but for myself and my family, we’re happy to see he’s in custody.”

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Posted 1:24 pm, November 17, 2011
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