The man arrested for the murder of FDNY first responder Yadira Arroyo in Soundview six years ago was found guilty in Bronx Supreme Court yesterday, according to the District Attorney’s office.
Jose Gonzalez, 31, was convicted of first-degree murder after nearly a month-long jury trial.
“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,” District Attorney Darcel Clark said.
The investigation states that on the evening of March 16, 2017, Gonzalez grabbed onto the back of Arroyo’s ambulance and rode on it, then hopped off and stole a backpack from a passerby. The person who was robbed flagged down Arroyo, who got out of the vehicle to speak to Gonzalez. The defendant then jumped into the driver’s seat of the ambulance and both Arroyo and her partner told him to exit the vehicle. Gonzalez then put the ambulance in reverse, striking Arroyo, then drove forward while she was pinned under the vehicle.
An off duty MTA police officer nearby saw the incident and handcuffed Gonzalez, a Fordham Heights resident, as he tried to run away after he had crashed the ambulance into a snowbank and tried to escape.
Arroyo, a mother of five and a 14-year veteran EMT, suffered multiple injuries and was later pronounced dead at Jacobi Medical Center.
“I thank the witnesses, who saw Yadi in her final moments, for their testimonies during the trial,” Clark said. “Yadi lives on in the legacy of her children, and in the countless New Yorkers she assisted in their time of need.”
The FDNY Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA) — a nonprofit organization that advocates for the health and safety of firefighters, fire marshals, marine engineers, pilots and wipers of the FDNY — stated their support of the verdict on Twitter yesterday.
“On behalf of the UFA, we are glad justice has been served and this criminal will be spending a very long time behind bars for killing a hero,” the FDNY UFA tweeted. “We extend our deepest sympathies to the Arroyo family — especially her beautiful children as they continue to grieve her loss — and stand in solidarity with our EMT brothers and sisters.”
Breaking news out of the Bronx as the killer of FDNY EMT Yadira Arroyo was found guilty of first degree murder today in court. On behalf of the UFA, we are glad Justice has been served and this criminal will be spending a very pic.twitter.com/KjOzhBv7ZS
— FDNY UFA (@UFANYC) March 9, 2023
Oren Barzilay, the president of the FDNY’s Local 2507, said he was relieved in a statement to the Bronx Times.
“This case has dragged on for nearly six long years, but finally we can breathe knowing that justice for our EMT sister, Yadira Arroyo, has been served,” he said. “The outcry of support and love for her family has been massive and at last, they can rest.”
The city has commemorated Arroyo’s legacy since her passing — the FDNY unveiled a memorial plaque in her honor on the second anniversary of her death in 2019, and in 2021 the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation renamed Blackrock Playground in Unionport the Yadira Arroyo Playground.
At the park renaming ceremony, Arroyo’s son Jose remembered his mother as a role model.
“It’s a real honor, privilege and amazing experience to have had such a hero of a mother,” he said in 2021. “I know my mom is looking down and she’s very proud of all the faces she sees today.”
Gonzalez’s trial was delayed after multiple court hearings on his mental fitness to stand trial, according to the Bronx District Attorney’s office. He was deemed unfit in May 2022 and sent to a psychiatric facility before being deemed fit to stand trial in September 2022.
Gonzalez is scheduled to be sentenced in court on April 5.
This story was updated at 3:02 p.m. on March 9 to include a statement from Oren Barzilay.
Reach Camille Botello at [email protected] or (718) 260-2535. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes