An EMS responding to a a Bronx fire was sexually assaulted after she went to help a man who claimed to need medical attention, police said.
A three-alarm fire broke out in a building on Westchester Avenue in Parkchester early Thursday morning. As crews worked to put out the flames, 52-year-old Aaron Cervantes Mejia allegedly flagged down a female first responder, saying he needed help.
When the EMT went over to provide assistance, that's when he attacked her.
"It's disgusting. I can't think of any other word, it's so terrifying, so angry, so emotionally draining. There's no other way to put it, it's just disgusting," said Michael Greco, an FDNY paramedic and vice president of the local union.
Greco said that the EMT's partner stepped in to help, and Cervantes was arrested after the incident.
"When people say, 'I can't imagine something like this happening,' it's not unimaginable because of the danger we face," said Greco. "We've tried to scream from the rooftops how dangerous our job is."
Mejia was set to appear before a judge Thursday night, facing felony charges for attacking an EMT worker. However on Friday, the Bronx DA said they would be "deferring prosecution pending further investigation." Attorney information for Mejia was not immediately made available.
Those close to the victim are demanding action, saying some kind of self-defense training could be required, or having EMTs carry pepper spray or something to help defend themselves.
"You touch a first responder, and you should immediately be in jail. Maybe that will get their attention," said Greco. "You're robbing us, killing us, sexually assaulting us. At what point do we punch back and are allowed to punch back?"
The attack comes just weeks after several other EMTs were robbed at gunpoint, lured by bogus 911 calls by their eventual attackers claiming they had an emergency.