FDNY EMT Yadira Arroyo’s killer found guilty of murder

Jose Gonzalez pictured in 2017 after his arrest (via CBS New York screengrab), Yadira Arroyo (pictured in an FDNY photo)

The suspect accused of running over an FDNY EMT and mother of five Yadira Arroyo with her own ambulance back in 2017 was found guilty in the Bronx of murder, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Questions surrounding Jose Gonzalez’s competency to face trial swirled in the earlier stages of the murder case, leading to years-long delays for justice, but the wait is now over, according to the Bronx District Attorney’s Office. Gonzalez, now 31, was convicted at the Bronx Supreme Court this week of first-degree murder as the man responsible for the death of the 14-year veteran first responder almost six years to the day that Arroyo was killed.

The March 16, 2017 slaying of the 44-year-old mother of five sons happened in the evening time. Jurors found that Gonzalez ran over Arroyo with her own ambulance and dragged her body down the street after hijacking the vehicle.

“[T]he defendant grabbed on to the back of the victim’s ambulance and rode on it, then jumped off and stole a backpack from a young man. The robbery victim flagged down EMT Yadira Arroyo’s ambulance and she got out of the vehicle and spoke briefly to Gonzalez. The defendant then jumped into the driver’s seat of the ambulance, and Arroyo and her partner, who was in the passenger seat, told him to get out,” prosecutors said. “Gonzalez put the car in reverse, striking Arroyo, then drove forward, pinning her under the vehicle and dragging her across the intersection. The defendant crashed the vehicle into a snowbank and exited the ambulance.”

According to authorities, there was never any doubt that Gonzalez was the person behind the wheel, and he was promptly arrested.

“An off-duty MTA Police Officer was nearby and saw the defendant drag the victim with the ambulance and confronted him. When Gonzalez tried to run away, the Officer tackled the defendant and handcuffed him, with the help of several civilians,” prosecutors added.

Yadira Arroyo died at the hospital.

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Bronx prosecutors said that Gonzalez’s previous incompetence to stand trial resulted in a psychiatric stay in May 2022. By September, however, he was restored to competency.

At trial, Arroyo’s former EMT partner Monique Williams tearfully testified about the incident, CBS New York reported. A colleague reportedly said Williams remains devastated and traumatized to this day.

The DA’s office thanked Williams and others deeply affected by the killing for testifying.

“Jose Gonzalez was convicted today of first-degree Murder in the horrendous death of Yadira Arroyo, a mother of five and 14-year veteran EMT, on March 16, 2017. 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,” Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said in a statement. “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.”

In the aftermath of the first responder’s murder, city officials moved to rename a Bronx park in her memory as a “fitting tribute to her service and sacrifice.”

“Arroyo was a longtime Bronx resident who was known for her giving nature and kind-heartedness. She volunteered at her local soup kitchen and always took care of those around her. A fourteen-year veteran of FDNY EMS Station 26 in the South Bronx, Arroyo was considered their matriarch. Arroyo lost her life on March 17, 2017 after succumbing to injuries from being struck by her ambulance while trying to prevent its theft. She is survived by her five sons,” the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation said. “Arroyo was a dedicated public servant who gave her life for the community. She was posthumously awarded the 2017 Medal of Valor by the National Association of Hispanic Firefighters and the Basic Life Support Provider of the Year by the Regional Emergency Medical Services Council of NYC. Arroyo is immortalized in a mural in Soundview, a street co-naming at 169th Street and Boston Road, and on plaques in both the station house and St. Barnabas Hospital.”

Gonzalez’s sentencing is currently set for April 5.

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