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Jury finds Tonawanda man guilty of murder of civilian, attempted murder of City of Tonawanda Police officers


Wed, Sep 27th 2023 04:15 pm

Submitted by the Erie County Sheriff’s Office

Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn announced a jury has found 31-year-old Matthew R. Gerwitz of City of Tonawanda guilty of one count of murder in the second degree, six counts of attempted murder in the first degree (class “A-I” felonies), two counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree (class “C” violent felonies) and three counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree (class “D” felonies). Jurors rendered their decision yesterday evening after approximately five hours of deliberation following an eight-day trial, convicting the defendant of all 12 counts in the indictment against him.

On Monday, May 26, 2020, at approximately 1:10 a.m., the defendant intentionally shot the victim on the corner of Morgan Street and Clinton Street in the City of Tonawanda with an illegal handgun. The victim, who was playing a cell phone game on the sidewalk at the time of the incident, was hit in the torso by gunfire. The victim, 32-year-old Joseph Marasco, was taken by ambulance to ECMC where he later died. The victim was not known to the defendant.

Gerwitz drove away after the shooting. 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. Once inside of the residence, the defendant intentionally fired multiple shots from an illegal rifle at four police officers who were outside of the apartment. One of the police officers, a detective who was wearing a bulletproof vest, was hit by gunfire multiple times. He was transported to ECMC where he was treated for non-life-threatening injuries. The other three officers were not injured.

The defendant then attempted to flee in a vehicle and exchanged gunfire with two police officers during their pursuit. Gerwitz was apprehended after a brief high-speed chase that ended a short distance away when police rammed the defendant’s car with their patrol vehicles on Morgan Street near Kohler Street. A police lieutenant suffered a sprained wrist and a back injury as a result of the collision. Another officer, who was in a separate patrol vehicle, was not unharmed.

During the investigation, three additional illegal handguns were found inside of the defendant’s residence.

If sentenced consecutively, Gerwitz faces a maximum possible sentence of up to 205 years to life in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced before Erie County Court Judge Sheila A. DiTullio on Tuesday, Nov. 14. He continues to be held without bail.

DA Flynn commends the City of Tonawanda Police Department Police as well as the Erie County Sheriff’s Office and all of the neighboring police agencies who responded to assist in this investigation.

The case was prosecuted by Chief John P. Gerken Jr. of the narcotics/intelligence bureau and Assistant District Attorney Nicholas C. Bussi of the felony trials bureau.

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