“I just want my life to go back the way it was,” Gibbs said as he sat on his porch in the same neighborhood near where he was shot last year.
Gibbs and his wife, Robin, were victims of what police called a “gang-type assault” April 10, 2011.
“We were walking home from her mother’s house,” Gibbs said.
As they turned from College Street onto Hogue Avenue, Gibbs said they noticed a man on the side of the road.
Mrs. Gibbs said she heard him make a suggestive comment as they walked past and muttered “really.”
The man then allegedly said “Really. Really want to see it.”
Then Gibbs said turned to look and saw the man was exposing himself.
“I told him that was rude, that was my wife, and he needed to have more respect than that,” Gibbs said.
He said the teen then texted on his telephone, which seemed to prompt residents on that street into a vicious attack on the couple.
“Next thing I knew, they all came out. When I saw them all come out, I wanted to defend her,” Gibbs said, referring to his wife.
The attackers numbered around 10, the Gibbs said. Mrs. Gibbs knocked a man off her husband and then six to eight women attacked her, the couple said.
“They just all went crazy,” Gibbs said. “We fought back the best we could, but we couldn’t really do any damage to them.”
Gibbs was airlifted to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta hospital with a gunshot wound to the back. He spent seven and a half days there. Mrs. Gibbs was treated and released for her injuries at a local hospital.
Javon Delmond Bledson, 18, of 223 North Piedmont Ave., Rockmart was arrested as the triggerman.
He was scheduled to be in Polk County Superior Court in June for his arraignment but that was canceled after court officials said paperwork to transport him to the court wasn’t completed in time.
Bledson is currently serving time after for a May 2010 robbery at the Little Bear Store on North Piedmont Avenue in Rockmart, according to court records.
Four others arrested in the case including Christopher Stocks, 23, of 207 Forrest Park, Apt. 2, Rockmart; Bethany Wiggins, 22, of 60 Craton St., Rockmart.; Pauline Bryant, 20, and Roberta Grandison, 22, both of 223 North Piedmont Ave, Rockmart, entered not guilty pleas by waiver submitted by their attorneys so they wouldn’t have to make a court appearance.
The sixth man arrested on charges stemming from the incident, Chadd Philpot, 23, of 1285 Fairview Road, entered a not guilty plea in court earlier this year, according to officials.
All have been indicted by a grand jury in the Hogue Avenue shooting, records indicate.
Gibbs said Bledson was also implicated in a shooting at the old American Legion building at 319 Springdale Road on April 3, 2011, just days before he was shot.
Rockmart Police Det. David Gowens, who investigated both shootings, confirmed that police did look at Bledson in the American Legion case. Bledson was never arrested because two witnesses, including the man who was shot, refused to come forward, he said.
Gibbs said he wishes they would have reported that crime so Bledson would have been off the street when they were walking by that night.
“If the two people would have come forward, I wouldn’t have been shot, but they wouldn’t press charges,” Gibbs said.
The man shot in the American Legion case was one of those arrested in the Gibbs shooting, according to Gowens.
Gibbs has a colonoscopy bag to remind him of his injuries.
Before the attack, Gibbs worked for his brother at Gibbs Construction. Now, he can’t wear a tool belt and gets some part-time work painting and lawn care.
His part-time work, amounting to 10 to 15 hours a week, helps but doesn’t really pay the bills. He said his brother has helped financially.
He doesn’t have health insurance and needs ongoing medical care for his injuries.
Gibbs said there is a reconstruction surgery, which could get him back to normal life again, but it costs $50,000. He said he needs $5,000 to get the surgery and the hospital told him they would work with him to pay off the rest.
He has no idea where he could get $5,000. Right now, the couple doesn’t have enough money to open a new bank account specifically designated to fund the operation.
Gibbs said it’s frustrating.
“Now my colon is healthy, but I can’t afford the surgery,” he said.
Ongoing care for the colonoscopy bag is also expensive. Ten bags are $60 and Gibbs said he needs a new one every three days.
The couple has had assistance from the Georgia Crime Victim’s Compensation Program, which financially helps those who are facing financial turmoil because of crime,
However, the couple has topped out at the maximum limit for help, according to Gowens.
Gowens said he has been working with the district attorney’s office and the Rockmart Police Department to find some other help for the Gibbs.
There doesn’t seem to be any.
The Gibbs are hoping the community has a solution - and compassion - to help them overcome health challenge.
Gibbs said what adds to the frustration is that he believes the group who attacked them was set on trouble and he and his wife just happened to be there when it erupted.
“They were looking for somebody to jump. I believe with all my heart it was a gang beating,” he said.
“They came out the door like it was nothing.”
Gowens said he knows the number of those participating in the beating was 10 or more, but six was all that could be positively identified by the Gibbs and independent witness accounts.
Gibbs said the thought that all but one of the group are on the street, walking around his neighborhood, and not going to trial anytime soon has left him angry.
However, he said he chooses not to live in fear and anger.
“I’m not scared to live here,” he said. “I’m not scared to live anywhere because this is a crime. Crime happens everywhere.”