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City of Tonawanda man indicted for murder of civilian, attempted murder of police officers

Posted at 1:00 PM, Aug 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-26 17:16:43-04

CITY OF TONAWANDA, NY. (WKBW) — A City of Tonawanda man was virtually arraigned Wednesday on an indictment charging him with several felonies in connection with a deadly May 2020 shooting, the charges include:

  • One count of murder in the second degree
  • Six counts of attempted murder in the first degree
  • Two counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree
  • Three counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree

On May 26, 2020 around 1 a.m. 28-year-old Matthew R. Gerwitz allegedly shot 32-year-old Joseph Marasco on the corner of Morgan Street and Clinton Street in the City of Tonawanda with an illegal handgun. Marasco was shot in the torso and was transported to ECMC where he later died.

Officials say Marasco was allegedly playing Pokemon Go in front of Gerwitz's home when there was an altercation that led to the shooting.

Officials say officers responded to investigate and around 3:40 a.m. it is alleged Gerwitz fired shots from an illegal rifle from inside his Morgan Street home at police officers.

City of Tonawanda Police Captain Fredic Foels told 7 Eyewitness News in May there were six police officers who were shot at and detective David Ljiljanich was shot in the pelvis, groin, buttox and twice in his bullet-proof vest. His fellow officers moved him behind a fire truck to shield him and themselves from gunfire.

Ljiljanich was transported to ECMC for treatment for non-life threatening injuries. No other officer was injured.

Following firing shots at the officers, Gerwitz allegedly fled the scene in a vehicle, a brief high-speed chase took place and he allegedly fired more shots at the officers in pursuit.

Gerwitz was taken into custody on Morgan Street near Kohler Street after his vehicle was rammed by police.

A police lieutenant suffered a sprained wrist and a back injury due to the collision.

Three additional illegal unloaded guns were recovered from Gerwitz's home. He is scheduled to return September 10 for a pre-trial conference and remains remanded without bail.

Gerwitz faces a maximum of 175 years to life in prison if convicted on all charges.