Published: Sat, May 20, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

New York Times Square crash: Teenage victim named as Alyssa Elsman

New York Times Square crash: Teenage victim named as Alyssa Elsman

An 18-year-old MI tourist was killed and 22 other pedestrians at the popular tourist site were injured on Thursday when a former member of the US Navy with a history of drink driving, Richard Rojas, allegedly mowed down random people for three blocks in his speeding auto.

NY officials immediately allay fears of terrorism by releasing information that the driver of the Honda Accord, identified as Richard Rojas, a 26-year old Navy veteran has a history of arrests for drunken driving.

Police said the young woman killed on the sidewalk was Alyssa Elsman, 18, who was on vacation with her family from MI. Her sister, 13, was also injured but authorities said she was expected to recover.

Witness, Juan Soto, told Sky News: "I came upon the scene - a gruesome scene with multiple victims on the sidewalk and the street".

Photographs emerged Thursday of Rojas appearing to shout near his wrecked vehicle.

While the attack triggered comparisons with jihadist-inspired vehicle rampages in Europe, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said there was "no indication that this was an act of terrorism".

Police said four people are in a critical but non-life threatening condition, three are in a serious condition and 15 are less serious.

"He began screaming, no particular words but just utter screaming".

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Richard Rojas entered no plea during his court appearance on Friday, a day after he apparently killed a teenage girl and injured at least 20 people in Times Square.

Smoke was coming out of the car's hood and the vehicle was slightly overturned on a barrier at a sidewalk in Times Square.

The picture that quickly emerged of Rojas from neighbors and authorities was of a man with problems.

Navy records show Rojas enlisted in September 2011 and was based in IL and Florida, working as an electrician's mate fireman apprentice. Rojas' lawyer, Enrico Demarco, had no comment.

Rojas served at a Navy base in Florida and aboard a destroyer, USS Carney.

Officials revealed that Rojas, a Navy veteran, had recently been arrested for menacing, for allegedly pulling a knife on a stranger and saying "Do you feel safe?" on a Bronx street. He left the Navy in May 2014.

Navy records also show he spent two months at a naval brig in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2013.

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