World News

Man who ran over pedestrians was 'hearing voices'

Man who ran over pedestrians was 'hearing voices'

Police say Rojas, 26, from the Bronx, drove his auto for three blocks into the Manhattan square at midday Thursday, hitting almost two dozen people before steel security barriers finally stopped him.

The speeding vehicle jumped the sidewalk on the west side of 7th Avenue at 42nd Street and barreled into pedestrians for three blocks before crashing at the northwest corner of 45th Street, police said.

While police do not suspect a link to terrorism, the bomb squad responded as a precaution to check the vehicle.

In this image made from video provided by Oscar Navarro Reyes, Richard Rojas is arrested after a fatal automobile accident on New York City's Times Square, Thursday, May 18, 2017. Police do not suspect a. Authorities and witnesses said Rojas drove his auto the wrong way up a Times Square street and plowed into pedestrians on the sidewalk.

A US Navy veteran who plowed a vehicle into pedestrians in New York's Times Square, killing a woman and injuring 22 other people, has been charged with murder and attempted murder, police said today.

Rojas, 26, was taken into custody after barreling into the lunch-hour crowd on Seventh Avenue shortly before noon, according to police.

"He murdered in cold blood", Assistant District Attorney Harrison Schweiloch said.

Police identified the woman killed by the vehicle as Alyssa Elsman, of Portage, Michigan.

An 18-year-old woman was killed and 22 other victims were injured, including the woman's 13-year-old sister, officials said.

Three people are in critical condition with serious head injuries, and a fourth is being treated for a collapsed lung and broken pelvis, according to the complaint.

Richard Rojas faces charges including murder, and 20 counts of attempted murder. He did not enter a plea, and his lawyer later declined comment. His family and friends who attended the hearing cried outside court and didn't speak to reporters.

Helpless pedestrians had little time to react as the auto barreled down the sidewalk and through intersections before smashing into a row of steel security barriers installed in recent years to prevent vehicle attacks on the square where massive crowds gather every New Year's Eve.

Another on the site shows him with a ripped t-shirt after being subdued and surrounded by police officers.

Photographers snapped pictures of a wild-eyed Rojas on Thursday after he climbed from the wrecked auto and ran through the streets.

Rojas has several prior criminal cases that paint a picture of a troubled man. He pleaded guilty and said he was aiming to avenge deaths from United States missiles fired from drones operating over Pakistan. He had accused the notary of stealing his identity.

In one of his two previous DWI arrests, Rojas was driving faster than 99 miles per hour in a 50 miles per hour zone, sources familiar with his record say.

The US Navy said he served from September 2011 to May 2014, reaching the rank of electrician's mate fireman apprentice. In 2012 he served aboard the USS Carney, a destroyer. Rojas spent his final months in the Navy at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida.

Rojas was most recently arrested on a menacing charge last week for allegedly pulling a knife on an acquaintance in the Bronx. The arresting officer said Rojas screamed, "My life is over!" as he was being detained.

Moments after barreling his auto through the crowded sidewalks in Manhattan's Times Square, Richard Rojas told a traffic agent, "I wanted to kill them all", according to a criminal complaint.


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