TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) — A Tonawanda man has been found guilty of murder, as well as six counts of first-degree attempted murder, for fatally shooting a civilian and firing at police officers, the Erie County District Attorney’s Office announced.
The verdict in the case of Matthew Gerwitz stems from a May 2020 incident in which prosecutors say the 31-year-old killed a man and subsequently shot at police officers, striking one multiple times. He faces a sentence of 205 years to life in prison
Early that morning, Joseph Marasco became the victim of the drive-by shooting at the corner of Morgan and Clinton streets in Tonawanda. Officials say the 32-year-old victim was struck in the torso before succumbing to his injuries at ECMC.
Marasco was not known to Gerwitz, prosecutors said.
Police accused Gerwitz of committing the shooting with an illegal handgun. He was also charged with using an illegal rifle to shoot Tonawanda Police Detective David Ljiljanich several times.
“About two hours later, at approximately 3:37 a.m., the defendant returned to the area and retreated back inside of his Morgan Street apartment as City of Tonawanda Police investigated the crime scene down the street,” the Erie County District Attorney’s office said.
According to prosecutors, the shots fired at police occurred less than three hours after the shooting of Marasco.
“Once inside of the residence, defendant intentionally fired multiple shots from an illegal rifle at four police officers who were outside of the apartment,” the DA’s office said.
After Ljiljanich was shot, police chased Gerwitz toward Kohler Street as gunfire continued. While the pursuit went on, they say Gerwitz threw a weapon into the grass. Eventually, police rammed his vehicle from behind and took him into custody. During the pursuit, a police lieutenant suffered a sprained wrist and back injury.
Ljiljanich, who was wearing a bulletproof vest, was later released from the hospital after receiving treatment.
Police say Gerwitz had previous run-ins with the law before this. While investigating, authorities said they recovered three more illegal, unloaded guns from Gerwitz’s home.
“It appears Gerwitz is a gun enthusiast who likes to make his own weapons,” Erie County District Attorney John Flynn stated during a conference that followed.
In addition to the murder and attempted murder charges, Gerwitz was found guilty of second and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon. Jurors came to their decision after roughly five hours of deliberation that followed an eight-day trial.
His sentencing will take place on the morning of November 14. Gerwitz is being held without bail.