What to Know
- Jose Gonzalez, 25, allegedly hijacked the ambulance when Yadira Arroyo and her partner pulled over in the Bronx to help someone Thursday
- He ran over Arroyo and her partner when the two tried to stop him from driving off, police allege
- Arroyo, a mother of 5 and 14-year FDNY EMS veteran, was dragged under the vehicle and left dead in the street
A 25-year-old man who allegedly stole an ambulance in the Bronx and ran over an EMT, a mother of five, has been arraigned on murder and other charges.
A contingent of EMTs stared down Jose Gonzalez as he was led out of the 43rd Precinct, professing his innocence, in handcuffs before dawn. Law enforcement sources say it's Gonzalez's 32nd arrest in 13 years; charges range from assault to criminal trespassing, robbery and public lewdness.
"I'm innocent, I didn't do nothing," a bruised Gonzalez said of the EMT case as he walked to a waiting vehicle.
At his arraignment later in the day, his attorney told reporters that Gonzalez was "severely mentally ill."
"Whatever happened in this case was not intentional," said Alice Fontier of Bronx Public Defenders. "He is not the person he is being portrayed to be."
Asked about the bruises and apparent injuries on Gonzalez, Fontier said he had been "arrested in a very rough fashion." He had severe bruising and a dislocated jaw, she said.
The lawyer, speaking to reporters after the arraignment, was mostly drowned out by an angry and emotional contingent of EMTs and colleagues who had gathered at the courtroom.
"This is obviously a very charged and emotional matter," she said. "It is abolutely a tragedy."
The EMTs gathered at the Bronx courtroom chanted "Yadi, Yadi" -- Arroyo's nickname -- and yelled, "Life, life," saying Gonzalez deserved to be imprisoned till death.
"He intentionally ran her over," said a union spokesman. "This was no mistake. This wasn't an 'I didn't see you.' This was murder."
Gonzalez is being held without bail.
Arroyo, a 44-year-old mother of five and beloved EMT veteran, was honored at a bunting ceremony at her Bronx stationhouse Friday evening.
Police said the 25-year-old Gonzalez was high on drugs when he hopped on the back of Arroyo's ambulance Thursday. A court complaint says Gonzalez darted into the driver's seat and ran over Arroyo after a man on the street flagged down the ambulance to say Gonzalez had seized his backpack; police said he was riding the back bumper of the ambulance after the apparent robbery.
Survellance video obtained exclusively by News 4 New York shows Gonzalez riding the bumper.
Arroyo and her partner tried to stop him and he put the ambulance in reverse; Arroyo fell to the ground and Gonzalez allegedly drove over her.
In addition to three counts of murder, Gonzalez is charged with grand larceny and operating a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs. He lives down the street from Arroyo, at a building run by Volunteers of America that houses homeless people or those who are cosidered "at risk." The organization didn't immediately respond to an email request for comment early Friday.