Man charged with sexual assault of FDNY EMT
FDNY Chief of EMS Operations Lillian Bonsignore called the attack at the scene of a three-alarm fire "unbelievable and despicable"
Update Jan. 29, 2021: Authorities have identified the suspect in the sexual assault of an FDNY EMT at a fire scene Thursday.
Police say Aaron Cervantes-Mejia, 52, was charged with forcible touching and sex abuse after allegedly flagging down the EMT claiming he needed help and then grabbing her inappropriately, according to Spectrum News NY1.
FDNY officials say the department plans to urge the district attorney to also charge Cervantes-Mejia with assaulting an EMS worker, which was made a felony under a law passed five years ago.
FDNY EMS Local 2507 President Oren Barzilay released a statement about the assault Thursday, writing, "What happened today to our sister EMT is appalling, despicable. Our men and women come to work with the only intention to help and save the lives of complete strangers, without any prejudice."
Barzilay said the EMT is receiving the support of her colleagues following the traumatic event, and called on the city to do more to protect its employees.
Read Barzilay's full statement below:
"We hold the FDNY and Mayor's Office accountable for the lack of self-defense training and tools we've been asking for years to help keep our men and women safe," Barzilay stated, also criticizing city and state legislators for recent bail reform measures, adding, "This miscreant should be locked up, but we know they'll be walking the streets again in no time."
By Laura French
NEW YORK — An FDNY EMT was assaulted by a man she was trying to help during a three-alarm fire on Thursday, officials say.
FDNY Chief of EMS Operations Lillian Bonsignore said the 32-year-old EMT was flagged down at the fire scene to help a 52-year-old man who appeared to have collapsed on the sidewalk, according to ABC7. When the EMT went to aid the man, he assaulted her, grabbed her inappropriately and held on to her, prompting a coworker to step in and help her get away, according to Bonsignore, who called the incident "unbelievable and despicable."
"It is disgusting and inappropriate. EMS is always here to save your life, always here to help you no matter what the situation, no matter who you are or where you come from, we are here, ready to assist," Bonsignore stated. "None of our people should have to come to work and deal with a situation like that ... We will not tolerate it, we will follow through 100% and we support the full prosecution of anybody who puts their hands on an EMS member."
NYPD officers arrested the suspect; further details about his identity and the charges he may face have not yet been released.
The fire, which broke out at about 6:30 a.m. Thursday, damaged seven businesses and sent heavy smoke throughout the neighborhood and an elevated subway line nearby. The fire is believed to have started at a 99-cent store and spread to other businesses.