Deadly Times Square crash: A US Army veteran, identifies as Richard Rojas, ploughed his car through the sidewalk pedestrians at New York’s Times Square, killing a woman and injuring 22 more people, believed to be under heavy influence of drugs.
The 26-year-old Richard Rojas, a former American Navy soldier from the Bronx district, might have consumed a drug known as “K2” or “Spice”, also known as synthetic marijuana, as reported by TV broadcaster CBS and “NY1”, citing criminal prosecutors.
Several terrifying videos of the car ramping into the pedestrians were surfacing online
Rojas drove his car north along the sidewalk on the Seventh Avenue at 12 o’clock (local time) in the morning on Thursday and then drove at high speed across the walkway. He rammed a bollard only after about three roadblocks, where his wagon hung and caught fire after a short time. Rojas was immediately arrested, said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “There is no evidence that this was a terrorist act,” said De Blasio.
“You were supposed to shoot me! I wanted to kill them,” said Rojas.
Four of the 22 wounded were still in danger on Thursday as firefighter Daniel Nigro said. Their survival chances were less. The woman who was killed was identified as Alyssa Elsman, 18, whose 13-year-old sister was also injured.
According to the authorities, Rojas was arrested in 2015 and 2008 for drunk driving. In addition, he was arrested this month because he pulled a kitchen knife in front of a visitor in his apartment in the Bronx. During his deployment to a military base in Jacksonville, Florida from 2011 to 2014, he was arrested for allegedly attacking a taxi driver. It is not clear why he steered his car into the crowd on Thursday. However, he said “My life is over,” when he was arrested.
Times Square in Manhattan, where Broadway crosses 7th Avenue, is one of the most popular tourist attractions and is one of the most populous places in New York. There are several offices, shops, theaters, bars and restaurants. The square crosses around 300,000 people every day, according to Times Square Alliance censuses. On particularly busy days even up to 480,000 pedestrians were counted.