Driver in Times Square rampage charged with murder – USA TODAY
A car traveling through Times Square has driven into a crowd of pedestrians, injuring several people. (May 18)
A 26-year-old man from the Bronx will be arraigned Friday on second-degree murder charges for allegedly steering his car onto a busy Times Square sidewalk, killing a Michigan tourist and injuring 22 people, four critically.
Richard Rojas was also charged with 20 counts of attempted murder and aggravated vehicular homicide, the New York Police Department said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said there was “no indication that this was an act of terrorism,” but officials said it was unclear what motivated Rojas.
Officials said Rojas served in Navy but was discharged following disciplinary problems. He was arrested on charges of driving while intoxicated in 2008 and 2015, losing his license for 90 days, police Commissioner James O’Neill said.
Police said the rampage unfolded rapidly as Rojas allegedly drove his car at high speed for three blocks down Seventh Avenue, in the heart of Times Square, made a U-turn at 42nd Street and vaulted the curb, hitting the first victim.
Before plowing into steel security barriers and coming to a stop, the car struck nearly two dozen people in crowded Times Square, a daily magnet for thousands of tourists.
Dramatic video shows the maroon Honda Accord knocking down pedestrians, throwing bodies into the air as it careened through the crowd.
Alyssa Elsman, an 18-year-old high school student from Portage, Mich., was killed and her 13-year-old sister was injured.
After hitting the barricade, Rojas jumped out and began running, yelling and jumping before police and bystanders wrestled him to the ground.
“He began screaming, no particular words but just utter screaming,” said Ken Bradix, a security supervisor at a nearby Planet Hollywood restaurant who tackled Rojas.
After his arrest, Rojas told police he was “hearing voices” and expected to die, according to two law enforcement officials who were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.
“He was on something, definitely,” one witness, Anthony McInnis, told the Daily News. “He was sweating like crazy. He was erratic.”
He initially tested negative for alcohol, but more detailed drug tests were pending, the officials said.
Contributing: Associated Press