Person of interest named in fatal hit-and-run
OAKLAND PARK, Fla. (WSVN) -- Police have identified and are searching for a person of interest in a hit-and-run that claimed the life of a 17-year-old boy.
Gabriel Amaya was riding his bike along Prospect and Powerline Roads in Oakland Park on June 14 when he was run down by a sport utility vehicle.
Amaya was taken to the hospital, but he succumbed to his injuries before he could make it there.
The teen's mother, Vilma Amaya, said it was normal for her son to ride his bike from about 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. However, when he did not return home on the day of his death, she knew something was wrong. Amaya's family has set up a memorial in their home in his memory, as they continue to mourn their loss. "I'm so angry. He left my son there to die like an animal. How could someone do this? Does he not have a mom? A son?" Vilma Amaya said, speaking in Spanish.
Amaya leaves behind three younger brothers, one of whom said, "He rode his bike every time, going to the park. He got hit by a car."
According to Hedy Tahbaz, the teen's attorney, Amaya fled persecution in El Salvador and arrived in the U.S. about a year ago. "He was worried, he was scared, but then, I encouraged him to go to school and try his best," Tahbaz said. "He was a great person all around."
Amaya excelled in school and had dreams of becoming an attorney, but now those dreams have been shattered. "He came to this country to prosper," Vilma Amaya said. "He wanted to be a soldier, then an attorney. Those were his dreams, and where is he now? I wait and wait, but he never comes home. He was such a loving son."
Police have now named 37-year-old Christopher Thompson a person of interest in the crime. "This is a terrible crime," said Tahbaz., "and I think it is a type of crime that only takes a coward to commit it, and I hope the person of interest that BSO officials are interested in talking to is going to man up and step forward.
Authorities are also looking for a black Chevy SUV. Thompson's neighbors said he drives an SUV similar to the one that police are looking for.
Thompson does have a criminal past, including charges of possession of cannabis and cocaine, and he lives near the scene of the hit-and-run. Thompson's neighbors said they have not seen him since last Friday. "The cops said they were looking for him," one neighbor said.
Another neighbor, Pam Ruth, said, "It's too bad, too, because they have a son themselves. That's the thing, and if they did something like that to a boy, and they've got a child of their own, you would think that they'd be a little more straight up about that."
If you have any information on Thompson's whereabouts, call Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a reward.
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