The Internet killed Tra'Quawn Gibson.
On social media, the scuttlebutt around the death of the 19-year-old Toledo gang member was rampant but untrue.
“I heard a [man] got killed Diz morning n da joint #riptae&Cj,” one Toledo gang member posted on Facebook on Sunday.
In a string of comments, mostly “Who died!?” inquires, the poster points to Gibson, who is serving life without parole at Lebanon Correctional Institution, as the supposed victim. News travels fast.
This showed up on Twitter a little while later:
I was not aware of the Internet chatter until Tuesday morning when it was mentioned to me during an interview about a totally unrelated topic with a person who is locked up, who asked me if I'd heard about Gibson being “stabbed to death at Lebanon.”
Say what now? That would be a no.
It didn't take long, once I was back in the newsroom and had a chance to make some calls, send some emails, and shoot off a few text messages, to find out that no, Gibson had not been stabbed to death, nor had he died in any other way. He is very much alive and very much still in prison.
A woman who answered the phone at the Warren County Coroner's Office said no prisoners had been brought into their office in weeks. She did note that if someone died at the prison they would have them because they autopsy all inmates who die while in custody.
Once I was able to reach JoEllen Smith, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, via email, she wrote that the talk about Gibson being dead were not true.
The then switched to, “he's badly beaten and brain dead.” In a follow-up email from Smith she said:
He is currently in segregation pending an investigation into an inmate on inmate altercation, however he is not hospitalized. He is at the Lebanon Correctional Institution.
Somehow word of the “altercation” spread from Lebanon to Toledo and the Internet killed Tra'Quawn Gibson. This blog is bringing him back to life.
Gibson was sentenced in September after being found guilty in Lucas County Common Pleas Court of two counts of murder, felonious assault, aggravated robbery, and participating in a criminal gang.
He was convicted of shooting to death Deontae Allen, 19, on Oct. 18, and then, on Nov. 18, his estranged girlfriend CreJonnia “CJ” Bell, 19.
Prosecutors said Gibson shot Allen and Limmie Reynolds III, now 21, after attempting to rob them in the name of Gibson's gang, the Manor Boyz (Young Money). He killed Bell because the two broke up and, police said, she knew too much about his involvement in the October homicide.
In the Facebook posting referenced above, the “#riptae&Cj” refers to Allen and Bell.