Members of the Plainview and neighboring communities gathered at the Plainview-Old Bethpage Library last week to hear from local officials following recent events that have shaken residents. State Assemblyman Charles Lavine hosted the forum.
“I’m in a position, along with Legislator [Arnold] Drucker and County Executive [Laura] Curran, to convene an event like this,” said Lavine. “I know, from my own life’s experience when there was a tragedy in a neighborhood that I lived in, how important it was to be able to come together to grieve, but also we were able to communicate with our police force which gave some measure of comfort. We could not do it any sooner.”
In attendance were Lavine, Drucker and Curran, who took the stage to address the audience. In addition, in the audience was Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino, Legislator Rose Marie Walker, Legislator Laura Schaefer and Assemblyman Michael Montesano. State Senator Jim Gaughran was expected to attend and speak but was unable to make it.
“No one is more upset and disturbed by the senseless violence and tragedy that has occured in this community,” said Drucker, a longtime Plainview resident. “With that, I don’t want people to be concerned that we are now living in an environment where the community is now crime-ridden. That’s far from the case. But nevertheless, we live in a highly-charged world today where unpredictable behavior occurs.”
Along with elected officials, County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder was also at the event to address the public about the ongoing investigation into the death of 27-year-old Plainvew resident Justin Gottlieb and answer any questions the public may have about safety protocols and safety measures.
Gottlieb, a longtime resident of the community, 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 near 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.
“Was it a random act? 100 percent,” said Ryder. “Do we know who it is? Its an ongoing investigation. I can’t give you what we know but I can tell you we are working closely. Our homicide [squad] has a person of interest. They are moving in the right direction. We will see how it all plays out. Is there a concern for the neighborhood? No.”
Ryder gave insight into the investigation, stating how investigators have scoured every single block that Gottlieb could have traveled to get to his house to see where a vehicle began following him. They have been looking at every possible camera on each of those streets that may have captured either the victim or the suspect.
“All of that video compiled starts to create a timeline,” said Ryder, addressing the audience. “Once they get that timeline and gather the evidence, they’ll start putting things together to identify the individual and make the arrest. I’d like to tell you more about it, but for now, just know that you have nothing to worry about.”
Ryder also addressed an incident that happened earlier this month when 25-year old Brian Gregg of Plainview was cleaning his handgun when the weapon accidentally went off and struck the 17-year old friend of his stepbrother. When they were driving to the hospital, they caused a four-car accident at the intersection of Plainview Road and Old Country Road. Those involved sustain minor injuries. Thanks to an officer who was involved in the crash, the 17-year-old was able to make it to the hospital, while Gregg was arrested for illegal possession of a firearm.
Residents addressed the officials with recommendations about more patrol officers, education for children about guns and potential stations around the town that can alert the authorities of an emergency, similar to the ones on college campuses. Another topic was the concern over criminal bail reform that went into effect earlier this year.
If you have information on these incidents, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-TIPS.