“I’m innocent,” he told reporters. “I didn’t do nothing.”
Gonzalez was charged with three counts of murder, grand larceny and operating a motor vehicle while impaired. His arraignment is scheduled for Friday, according to the AP.
Yadira Arroyo, a 14-year veteran of the New York Fire Department, was killed Thursday night after Gonzalez seized the ambulance she was driving and then struck her with the vehicle, authorities said. Arroyo’s partner was injured but is in stable condition.
“An EMT was lost in the line of duty, bravely doing her job and encountering the kind of danger that our EMTs should not have to confront,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday night at the Jacobi Medical Center, where Arroyo was pronounced dead. “They should not ever have to be subjected to violence, and yet that danger always exists for them.”
The 44-year-old paramedic was a mother of five, de Blasio said. Although the mayor did not name the EMT, the fire department later confirmed Arroyo’s identity.
Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro said she was the eighth member of the New York emergency medical services and only the third female employee to be killed in the line of duty.
Arroyo had been driving the ambulance through the Bronx, with another female EMT in the passenger seat, when a passerby flagged down the ambulance at about 7 p.m. and told them a man was riding on the rear bumper, police said.
Both Arroyo and the other EMT exited the ambulance, Nigro said. Arroyo, who left the ambulance door open, was approaching the man, later identified as Gonzalez, who then moved around her and went inside the ambulance. Gonzalez threw the ambulance into reverse, knocking Arroyo to the ground, according to police. That’s when he ran over Arroyo and dragged her as he drove over a sidewalk and to an intersection, striking several parked cars along the way, authorities said.
He then stopped the ambulance and ran away, police said. Gonzalez was later caught by an Metropolitan Transportation Authority officer, according to police.
Officers found Arroyo on the roadway with “trauma about her body,” a police news release states. Her partner, a 30-year-old EMT who has not been publicly identified, suffered injuries to her neck and shoulder.
A witness, Justin Lopez, 20, shot a video of the incident.
“I was coming from the street, up to the red light and I just saw the ambulance, the sirens and lights, and I told my brother, ‘Look something’s happening,’ and then somebody just hopped in, and then he hit two cars and ran over the person,” Lopez told the New York Daily News. “I realized he was hijacking the car.”
Nancy Montavo, who was nearby, told the Daily News that the second paramedic was devastated. “She was screaming ‘my partner, my partner.’ She was screaming hysterically. I can’t forget her screaming,” Montavo said. “All the police came running and they put her in an ambulance.”
“We lost a good woman,” de Blasio said. “She started her shift today like every other day, and then a senseless act of violence takes her life.”