Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Arraignment Friday for Richard Rojas, accused of running down Times Square pedestrians

Arraignment Friday for Richard Rojas, accused of running down Times Square pedestrians

The driver of the vehicle that careened through New York City's Times Square on Thursday was a U.S. Navy veteran who had been arrested at least four times before for offenses including drunk driving and threatening someone with a knife, according to police officials and public records.

Rojas drove his auto from the Bronx to Times Square on Thursday, where he sped into the bustling Crossroads of the World, hitting almost two dozen people on the sidewalk before steel security barriers finally stopped him, authorities said.

"A woman in front on the sidewalk was hit and tossed before then auto reached 44th st, continued plowing people down at full speed up to 45th street, where it was stopped after crashing into more people and the light post", posted Instagram user Ed G Val, who from across the street "saw the vehicle speeding north on the west sidewalk of southbound 7th Ave".

A vehicle that struck pedestrians and later crashed is seen on the sidewalk in Times Square in New York May 18, 2017.

The driver, a 26-year-old U.S. Navy veteran, told officers he was hearing voices and expected to die, two law enforcement officials said.

Moments after barreling his vehicle 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.

A Planet Hollywood door supervisor tackled the driver who plowed into pedestrians in Times Square Thursday and helped hold him, he told ABC News.

"Between 42nd and 43rd, an 18-year-old female was struck and is now dead". Harrison Ramos said Rojas wasn't the same when he came back from active duty in 2014. He told the police he was hearing voices and wanted to kill himself. "He didn't stop. He just kept going", Lowe said.

People who lived near Rojas described him as a friendly man who had been having problems. Four of the survivors were taken to hospitals in critical condition.

Rojas was arrested on charges of driving while intoxicated in 2008 and 2015, Police Commissioner James O'Neill said, losing his licence for 90 days.

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Mr Rojas enlisted in the Navy in 2011 and was an electrician's mate fireman apprentice.

During this time, he had told police he was being harassed and followed. In 2012 he served aboard the USS Carney, a destroyer.

Navy records show he spent two months in a military prison in Charleston, South Carolina, in the summer of 2013 but do not specify why. They do not indicate why.

Rojas spent his final months in the Navy at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida, before being discharged in 2014 as the result of a special court martial, a Navy official said.

The mayhem in Times Square began at noon [local time] on a hot, clear day that brought large crowds of people into the streets to enjoy the good weather.

"People just got stunned", said Bruno Carvalho, a student at SUNY Albany.

She graduated from Portage Central High School.

"Alyssa was the type of person who seemed very shy and reserved when you first met her, but once you started talking to her you realized she was smart, amusing and engaging", principal Eric Alburtus said in a statement. "But if you could talk to her for a minute, you'd realize she was engaging". "I don't think there was actually time for screaming".

On Thursday evening, police were at an apartment where Rojas stayed with his mother in the Mount Eden section of the Bronx.

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