Gunman Indicted for Murder of Civilian and Attempted Murder of City of Tonawanda Police Officers

Modified: August 26, 2020 12:17pm

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Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn announces that 28-year-old Matthew R. Gerwitz of City of Tonawanda has been virtually arraigned before Erie County Court Judge Sheila A. DiTullio on an indictment charging him with the following felonies:

  • One count of Murder in the Second Degree, a Class “A-1” felony
  • Six counts of Attempted Murder in the First Degree, Class “A-1” felonies
  • Two counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree, Class “C” felonies
  • Three counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree, Class “D” felonies

It is alleged that on Monday, May 26, 2020, at approximately 1:10 a.m., the defendant shot 32-year-old Joseph Marasco on the corner of Morgan Street and Clinton Street in the City of Tonawanda with an illegal handgun. The victim was hit in the torso. He was taken to ECMC where he later died.

As City of Tonawanda Police responded to the scene to investigate the shooting, the defendant allegedly re-entered his Morgan Street apartment. It is further alleged that at approximately 3:40 a.m., the defendant fired shots from an illegal rifle from inside his home at police officers. A police detective, who was outside of the home, was shot.

The detective, who was wearing a bulletproof vest, was hit by gunfire multiple times. He was taken to ECMC to be treated for non-life threatening injuries. 

The defendant allegedly fled in a vehicle and exchanged gunfire with police during their pursuit. The defendant 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 in a different patrol vehicle was unharmed.

Investigators allegedly recovered three more illegal, unloaded guns from the defendant’s residence following the shooting.

Gerwitz is scheduled to return on Thursday, September 10, 2020 at 11:00 a.m. for a pre-trial conference. He remains remanded without bail.

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

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

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney John Gerken, Jr. of the DA’s Tactical Prosecution Unit.

As are all persons accused of a crime, the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.