A FDNY EMT was killed when a man, who was apparently on drugs, stole an FDNY ambulance and ran over her with the vehicle last night in the Bronx. Another EMT was also injured. In a press conference following the incident, Mayor Bill de Blasio said of Yadira Arroyo, "We lost a good woman: 44-years-old, 14-year veteran of the FDNY, a mother of five children."
Jose Gonzalez, 25, was charged with murder, grand larceny and operating a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs. While being led from the police precinct, he claimed, "I'm innocent."
The fatal incident unfolded around 7 p.m. in Morris Park, at the intersection of Watson and White Plains Road. Investigators say a civilian flagged down the ambulance from Station 26 to let Arroyo and her partner, Monique Williams, know that a man was riding on their bumper.
"So, they stopped the ambulance, they got out to see what was happening," FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said at a press conference at Jacobi Medical Center. "This person in turn went around the other side of the ambulance and got into the driver’s side. When they noticed that and they tried to get him out of the ambulance, he put it in reverse - he struck the one EMT, who was injured, and he ran over our other EMT, and she was subsequently killed."
Witnesses told the NY Post that Arroyo tried to stop the suspect by "clinging to the side of the ambulance as the 25-year-old man floored the gas pedal, backed into her then dragged her eight to 10 feet forward."
At last night's press conference, NYPD Deputy Chief Jason Wilcox unpacked the incident for reporters: "At the intersection, the ambulance then proceeds forward, crashing into a parked car on the other side of the street and also getting stuck in the snow bank with the tires spinning, causing smoke to come out.
"MTA K-9 Unit Officer [Dan] McCabe was also proceeding southbound on White Plains Road at the time... [McCabe] sees the ambulance striking the cars, and pulls over at the scene. The MTA officer engages the suspect and, as the Mayor said, with the assistance of good samaritans, was able to bring down and tackle the suspect, and he was subsequently placed in custody and brought to the 43rd Precinct."
Witness Nancy Montavo told the News Williams "was screaming, ‘my partner, my partner!’ She was screaming hysterically. I can’t forget her screaming. All the police came running and they put her in an ambulance."
On a video obtained by the Post, Williams appears to kick Gonzalez. A source told the tabloid, "Makes sense, the guy just ran over her partner. Wouldn’t blame her for wanting to kick his ass."
Gonzalez, who reportedly has a criminal history, is "an emotionally disturbed person who has had numerous prior interactions with the police," per WABC 7. PIX 11 reports that before stealing the ambulance, he was seen in a bodega begging for a cigarette and, according to witnesses, appeared to be intoxicated:
— Anthony DiLorenzo (@ADiLorenzoTV) March 17, 2017
Firefighters lined the street and saluted when the ambulance carrying Arroyo's body headed to the Medical Examiner's office.
When Gonzalez was escorted from the precinct, dozens of EMTs were waiting outside; one yelled, "There’s a special place in hell for people like you."
During the press conference at Jacobi, de Blasio said EMTs "do crucial work—they save lives—but they should not ever have to be subjected to violence. And yet, that danger always exists for them."