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Suspect arraigned in connection to Tonawanda shooting that left one man and one detective injured

Posted at 10:16 AM, May 27, 2020

CITY OF TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WKBW) — A judge has arraigned a man on charges associated with a shooting in the City of Tonawanda that left a police detective and a civilian injured.

Matthew Gerwitz, 28, is charged with two counts of attempted murder in the first degree in connection to the shots fired at police officers, one count of attempted murder in the second degree in connection to the shooting of the civilian, and two counts related to weapon possession.

Gerwitz is accused of shooting a man on Morgan Street around 1 a.m. on Tuesday. Officers found the man when they arrived on the 200 block. While the officers were at the scene, Gerwitz is accused of returning and opening fire on six officers with an AR-15.

Detective David Ljiljanich was shot four times-- twice in his bullet-proof vest and twice in the pelvis, groin and buttocks. He was taken to Erie County Medical Center and is expected to be released from the hospital soon.

Police say Gerwitz drove away from the scene, pursued by two officers. The officers hit Gerwitz's car two blocks away, and he was taken into custody. One of the officers, a lieutenant whose name has not been released, broke his wrist in the collision.

"The lives of multiple police officers were placed in serious jeopardy," Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said Wednesday following Gerwitz's arraignment. "Thank god they are safe and they are going to recover," he added.

The man injured in the initial shooting was shot in the stomach. He has not been identified. Police said he remained in stable condition in the ICU at ECMC.

Prosecutors say five illegal firearms were found while executing a search warrant in connection to this case. The assistant district attorney assigned to the case said Gerwitz acted with "reckless abandon" and asked that the suspect be held without bail. The judge accepted that request and ordered Gerwitz to be remanded without bail.

Gerwitz is due back in court on June 24 at 9:30 a.m. He faces life in prison if convicted of the charges against him. A felony hearing in the case is scheduled for June 17 at 10:30 a.m.