Man who ran over pedestrians was 'hearing voices'

Vincent Carr
May 20, 2017

Law enforcement officials say a man accused of steering his vehicle onto one of the busiest sidewalks in the US and mowing down pedestrians for three blocks told police he was "hearing voices". He was identified as Richard Rojas, a 26-year-old from the Bronx with a history of arrests for driving while intoxicated, as well as other infractions.

Richard Rojas, the 26-year-old Navy veteran from the Bronx who was arrested for allegedly ploughing his auto into pedestrians in New York's Times Square, killing one and injuring 22 others on Thursday (18 May), told investigators that he had "heard voices" at the time of the incident.

18 year old Alyssa Elsman was killed in the incident while her 13 year old sister was one of those injured. Her sister, with whom she was walking at the time, was also injured when Rojas plowed through.

Seconds before impact, two women pushed their baby strollers right where the auto would begin its path of destruction through Times Square.

Witnesses said the motorist mounted the sidewalk in a burgundy Honda sedan and sped along for more than three city blocks, knocking people over before the vehicle hit a pole and came to rest at 45th Street and Broadway in Midtown Manhattan.

Navy records also showed he spent two months in a military prison in Charleston, South Carolina, in the summer of 2013, but the reports did not elaborate on the reason.

Authorities say Rojas does have a criminal record, including multiple DWI charges.

Police sources describe Rojas as emotional disturbed and say he made rambling statements after being arrested, Grymes reports. He says Rojas was posting "crazy stuff" online that has since been taken down, according to The Associated Press. Initial tests came back negative for alcohol, the law enforcement sources told ABC News.

Rojas was charged with second-degree murder, 20 counts of attempted murder, and five counts of aggravated vehicular homicide, according to a press release from the New York City Police Department (NYPD).

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Rojas is to be arraigned Friday.

Rojas was in custody and unable to comment. "There was no indication it was an act of terrorism", he told reporters on Thursday.

Lowe saw injured people, including a woman who "had tracks all over her body". Police do not suspect a.

"He went through a real tough time", Ramos said, adding that he had lost contact with Rojas. The arresting officer said Rojas screamed, "My life is over!" as he was being detained.

The incident does not appear to be linked to terrorism and is being investigated as an accident, according to New York City police, who are working with the FBI to investigate. He was taken from Midtown to the Seventh Precinct to undergo drug and alcohol testing.

"A woman in front on the sidewalk was hit and tossed before then vehicle 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 auto speeding north on the west sidewalk of southbound 7th Ave".

Six months ago the city completed a $55 million, almost six-year renovation of Times Square that turned roadways into pedestrian zones.

There was no immediate word from New York City police on the number of people who were hurt.

Other reports by BadHub

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