A Bronx man was ordered held without bail Friday after he was charged with the murder of an FDNY ambulance crew member, a woman he ran over while carjacking her ambulance, officials said.
Jose Gonzalez, 25, of Creston Avenue in the Fordham Heights section, didn’t enter a plea during he brief appearance before acting Bronx Criminal Court Justice Kim Wilson, who ordered him held on a complaint charging him with two counts of first- and second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter and first-degree robbery. Wilson ordered Gonzalez to return to court on Wednesday.
Gonzalez, who according to police has had more than 30 low-level arrests, entered court greeted by the icy stares of scores of friends and colleagues of Yadira Arroyo, the 44-year-old EMT and mother of five he allegedly ran over and killed.
Gonzalez was overheard asking where his family was as he looked around the courtroom, his hands cuffed behind his back.
As Assistant District Attorney Michael Schordine recounted the frenzied events in which Gonzalez allegedly hijacked the ambulance and ran over and killed Arroyo, spectators in the courtroom grumbled insults about the defendant and sometimes sobbed.
At the end of the court appearance, Gonzalez said “Thank you, judge” sarcastically with a smirk to Wilson as he was led out of court.
Outside the courtroom, Gonzalez’s court-appointed attorney, Alice Fontier, said the case was an “absolute tragedy.”
“Mr. Gonzales is severely mentally ill. Whatever happened in this case was not intentional,” Fontier said.
“What we hope to have happen is reveal the truth about who Mr. Gonzales is. You will see that he has a long history of mental illness and that the criminal record is not accurate,” Fontier said. She also said that Gonzalez had only a few misdemeanor convictions.
A spokeswoman for Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark said Gonzalez had two pending cases: one from February in which he was charged with assaulting a female officer and another from last June in which he is charged with assaulting a security guard. In both cases, Gonzalez was released on his own recognizance without bail, the spokeswoman said.
Police said Gonzalez was spotted by eyewitnesses riding on the rear bumper of the ambulance driven by Arroyo at White Plains Road and Watson Avenue about 7 p.m. Thursday. When a motorist alerted Arroyo and her partner about the bumper rider, the women got out to investigate and Gonzalez jumped behind the wheel, authorities said.
As the EMT who had been a passenger fought Gonzalez for control, Arroyo was trying to pull him from the driver’s seat when the suspect put the ambulance first in reverse and then in drive, NYPD Deputy Chief Jason Wilcox of the Bronx detectives said at a Thursday night news conference at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx.
That’s when Arroyo was knocked aside and struck by the tires of the ambulance as it went in reverse, crashed onto a snowbank and hit three vehicles, authorities said. Gonzalez then drove forward, striking Arroyo a second time, police said.
Arroyo, whose children range in age from 5 to 24 according to relatives, was found by police lying in the middle of the intersection and unresponsive. She was brought to Jacobi where she was pronounced dead. Her EMT partner, who wasn’t identified, suffered injuries to her neck and shoulder and was in stable condition, according to police.
Police said bystanders restrained Gonzalez until NYPD officers arrived to make an arrest.
Joel Rosado, 27, a brother of Arroyo, said Friday he had just become an EMT to honor his sister and was devastated by her death.
“She was an amazing mother of five,” Rosado said. “She loved her job, she loved what she did. She was good with the family. Everybody loves her.”
“This man has to pay for what he did to this woman and her family,” said Israel Miranda, president of the EMT union.