Tonawanda man facing 175-year sentence if convicted of charges including murder, attempted murder

Tonawanda

TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) — Matthew Gerwitz, 28, has been indicted on one count of murder, six counts of attempted murder, two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and three counts of third-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

Early in the morning on May 26, Joseph Marasco became the victim of a drive-by shooting on Morgan St. in Tonawanda. Officials say the 32-year-old victim was struck in the torso before succumbing to his injuries at ECMC.

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, 44, several times.

Prosecutors say that shooting occurred less than three hours after the first one. Ljiljanich, who was wearing a bulletproof vest, was later released from the hospital after receiving treatment.

After Ljiljanich was shot, police chased Gerwitz toward Kohler St. 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.

Police say Gerwitz has had previous run-ins with the law.

“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 the incident.

While investigating, police say they recovered three more illegal, unloaded guns from Gerwitz’s home.

Gerwitz, who is scheduled to return to court on September 10, could be sentenced to 175 years in prison if convicted. He remains remanded without bail.

Evan Anstey is a digital content producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here.

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