Man Found Guilty of Murder of FDNY EMT Yadira Arroyo in 2017 Bronx Ambulance Hijacking

Jose Gonzalez was accused of killing 14-year FDNY veteran Yadira Arroyo when he hijacked her ambulance as she was working on March 16, 2017

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Years after a man was accused of killing a Bronx EMT as he attempted to steal the ambulance she was riding in, a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder on Wednesday.

Jose Gonzalez was accused of killing 14-year FDNY veteran Yadira Arroyo when he hijacked her ambulance as she was working on March 16, 2017. Police said Arroyo and her partner had noticed Gonzalez riding on the back of their ambulance.

When they got out to investigate, Gonzalez jumped into the driver's seat, put the vehicle in reverse and ran Arroyo over. He then allegedly went forward, dragging the the 44-year-old into an intersection at White Plains Road and Watson Avenue.

The mother of five, who worked as an EMT for 14 years at EMS station No. 26 in the Bronx, was pronounced dead shortly after. Arroyo, known affectionately as Yadi, was a single mother when she decided to become an EMT at the encouragement of her own mother, according to her brother Joel Rosado, also an EMT. 

A passing MTA police officer witnessed the crash and immediately pulled over and subdued the suspect with the help of bystanders, authorities said.

Gonzalez had 31 prior arrests and four prior misdemeanors on his record, authorities said. He faced a slew of charges including first-degree murder, manslaughter and robbery.

The trial had been delayed multiple times after Gonzalez's attorney said in the past that his client was severely mentally ill. In September, Gonzalez was deemed fit to stand trial by medical professionals. Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said at the time that Gonzalez was evaluated at Mid-Hudson Forensic Psychiatric Center, and it was determined that he was no longer considered "an incapacitated person."

"Overwhelmed. A slew of emotions just fell over me," said Arroyo’s aunt, Ali Acevedo-Hernandez, after the guilty verdict. "We waited six years through ups and downs, anger, despair, emotion, agony. We finally did it."

Jose Gonzales was finally cleared to stand trial in the death of Yadira Arroyo five years later. Melissa Colorado reports.

Defense attorneys for Gonzalez didn't deny that their client killed Arroyo, but said he shouldn't have been convicted of murder because he was under the influence of PCP at the time.

Jurors deliberated for six hours after weeks of evidence presented and testimony from witnesses in court. Arroyo's family was in court Wednesday as the jury sent six notes to the judge asking to playback the surveillance and cellphone video from the deadly incident.

Jurors also wanted to hear testimony Gonzalez provided hours after he was arrested, as well as testimony from Arroyo's partner Monique Williams. They asked the judge for the legal definition of intent.

"The road to justice for Yadi was tortuous; this case was delayed because of numerous hearings regarding the defendant’s fitness to stand trial, but her family and FDNY colleagues were patient and steadfast from the beginning until today’s verdict," said DA Clark. "I thank the witnesses, who saw Yadi in her final moments, for their testimonies during the trial. Yadi lives on in the legacy of her children, and in the countless New Yorkers she assisted in their time of need."

Gonzalez now faces 25 years to life in prison at his sentencing hearing set for Wednesday, April 5.

"She was a first responder, but more importantly she was a hero. Out there doing her job serving the public, and to lose her life in this way it mean so much that today, almost six years later, we finally, finally get justice for her," said Clark.

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