Police are still on the hunt for a suspect or suspects who shot and killed 27-year-old Plainview resident Justin Gottlieb last week and they are seeking the public’s help in identifying them.
According to police, Gottlieb was getting out of his workplace in Jericho at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 15, and began driving home in a 2002 red Ford Explorer, with the license plate number of EBJ2643. At one point in his drive, police say a light-colored four door sedan began following him on his route home. When Gottlieb arrived on Margaret Drive East nearby his home around 5:30 p.m., the individual driving the sedan pulled-up alongside Gottlieb’s car and fired multiple shots into the driver-side window and then fled the scene. Gottlieb was struck multiple times and was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
Det. Lt. Stephen Fitzpatrick, the commanding officer of the Nassau County Police Department homicide unit, said they are trying to determine when on Gottlieb’s route home that the light-colored vehicle, which police say was “possibly white in color,” began to follow him home.
“We don’t believe this to be a random incident,” said Fitzpatrick. “We believe it to be a targeted incident. Somewhere between Jericho and Plainview something happened between Justin and a white four-door sedan.”
There is no indication that Gottlieb knew the person in the sedan, nor was their anything known to be wrong in his life to lead him to be targeted. According to Fitzpatrick, Gottlieb spent most of his time at either work or at home, not much in-between.
When asked if this could have been the case of road rage, Fitzpatrick did not rule it out. They are currently looking at street camera video to see if they can see anything suspicious, as well as any videos that were filmed in the neighborhood at the time of the crime.
“We are inquiring anyone that were on the roads that day if they saw this [Ford] Explorer interacting with a white four-door sedan, whether it looked like a road rage, some kind of argument or anything that looked out of the ordinary,” said Fitzpatrick. “We are asking people to get in touch with us at the homicide squad or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-TIPS.”
The community is in a state of shock following the incident, with many residents going to social media to express their anger, worry and heartbreak over the incident. Gottlieb leaves behind a fiancé, Lauren La Bella, a 6-month-old daughter, Coco and many others. Gottlieb and La Bella were both graduates of Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School.
Many have reached out to the family to send their condolences. A GoFundMe was set up by the family shortly after his passing and it has raised more than $94,000 as of Friday afternoon.
“Our ridiculously intelligent, pure hearted Justin was taken from us in a hateful crime that we absolutely cannot even begin to understand,” said the GoFundMe post. “We lost a son, a brother, a cousin, a nephew, a grandson, a friend, but most importantly a future husband and new dad to our sweet and beautiful Lauren and Coco. Nothing in the world can take away our pain and suffering, but any bit of help no matter how small or big can lessen the burden on his beautiful little family that he was taken from way too soon.”
The funding page has been flooded by those expressing condolences, as well as some who knew Gottlieb commenting on what he and his family have meant to them. For those who wish to donate to the Gottlieb family, you may visit www.gofundme.com/f/in-loving-memory-of-justin-gottlieb.
“If you are able to contribute, let’s show the Gottlieb family that we are #PlainviewStrong,” Legislator Arnold Drucker, who is a Plainview resident, said on his Facebook page.
This is the second time in the last six months that the Plainview-Old Bethpage community has been rocked by a shooting. Six months ago, a drug deal in Haypath Park of Old Bethpage led to 22-year-old Stefon Pierre of Queens being shot and killed. Five individuals were arrested shortly after the incident, two of whom were charged with second-degree murder.