SOUTH BRONX — The man accused of killing EMT Yadira Arroyo was released without bail by a Bronx Criminal Court Judge in February, despite a lengthy rap sheet and a request by prosecutors to keep him behind bars, according to court records and the Bronx District Attorney's Office.
Jose Gonzalez, 25, who allegedly killed Arroyo after stealing her ambulance in The Bronx on Thursday and reversing into her, fatally hitting her and injuring her partner, has 25 criminal cases — mostly for disorderly conduct and drugs — in The Bronx, and six other cases across the city, according to authorities.
Despite his history of arrests for crimes ranging from criminal possession of marijuana and disorderly conduct, Judge David Kirschner ordered Gonzalez freed without bail after a Feb. 25 robbery arrest in which he swung at NYPD officers, shattered the window of a police department van by kicking it and lit into officers with a profanity-laced tirade, according to court documents.
The prosecution requested that he be held on $5,000 bail in that case, but Kirschner refused, according to the Bronx DA's office.
“We don’t understand why he kept getting released,” Arroyo's uncle Edwin Rosado told the New York Post. “He should never have been let out of jail."
Officials from the Office of Court Administration, which oversees judges, did not respond to calls for comment.
Before taking Arroyo's ambulance, Gonzalez went up to a man wearing a backpack, told him he was arresting him and took it, according to his criminal complaint.
Arroyo and her partner stopped to intervene, at which point Gonzalez, who has a history of mental illness according to police, jumped into her ambulance and reversed it, killing her.
Her funeral will be held on March 25 at St. Nicholas of Tolentine R.C. Church at 2345 University Ave. at 11 a.m., and a huge crowd gathered in support of her for a candlelight vigil on Sunday evening at the intersection of Watson Avenue and White Plains Road, where she was fatally hit.
Money has also been pouring into fundraisers for Arroyo's family, which includes five children.
The Stephen Stiller Tunnel to Towers Foundation pledged $100,000 to her family on Saturday and raised about $50,000 more within the first 24 hours, according to COO John Hodge.
Donations have so far come in from 25 states and Great Britain, Hodge said.
"We kicked off the fundraising campaign by putting in the first $100,000," said Hodge, "but we’re challenging everyone in the tri-state area, all New Yorkers and people from around the country, to please increase that number substantially because there are five children to take care of."