Escapee may face assault charges, too

NASHUA – The convict who bolted on county sheriff’s officers at district court and caused a massive but brief manhunt will probably face an assault charge for hurting an officer before he escaped, Sheriff James Hardy said.

Complete details on how Peter Gibbs broke free of the custody of court officers Monday are still unknown, but Hardy said that Gibbs hurt a county sheriff officer as he fled the courthouse. The officer was treated and released from a local hospital for non life-threatening injuries, Hardy said.

Hardy said he hopes to have the investigation completed by this week, though he wasn’t sure exactly when. People are still being interviewed, he said.

“I’m always reviewing our internal procedures of custody and control,” Hardy said.

He said the results of the investigation will be publicly released in the paperwork for charges that will be filed against Gibbs.

Aside from the assault charge, the sheriff’s office will probably charge Gibbs with escape, Hardy said. The sheriff’s office is consulting with the county attorney before filing those charges, he said.

The 43-year-old Gibbs broke free from court officers and prompted an hour-long manhunt by scores of uniformed and plainclothes police officers. He fled the courthouse, managed to jog to a nearby apartment building and then to the Nashua River, with one leg shackled and both hands restrained by cuffs.

Gibbs jumped in the river and immediately sunk, leading three Nashua Police officers to also jump in and pull the escapee to land, police said.

He fought officers’ attempts to arrest him and was bitten by a police dog during the struggle, police said. He was charged with resisting arrest by Nashua Police for that incident and pleaded not guilty at an arraignment on Tuesday.

Gibbs was in court Monday for a probable cause hearing on a home invasion robbery charge, one of two such crimes he is accused of committing. That hearing was postponed to Aug. 18.

The Nashua native has spent more than half of his life behind bars and stands to spend a good part of the rest of his life there if convicted on the two home invasion robberies in Nashua last winter, including one in which he is accused of tying a man up with Christmas lights.