Times Square car crash driver Richard Rojas ‘heard voices’
A man who drove a car along three pavement blocks in New York’s Times Square, killing a teenager and wounding 22 people, said he had “heard voices,” according to police sources.
Richard Rojas, a 26-year veteran of the United States Navy who was twice arrested for driving while intoxicated, is now in custody.
He also said he expected to die, sources told the AP news agency.
According to Reuters, he said after being arrested: “They were supposed to shoot me! I wanted to kill them.”
Mr. Rojas has been charged with second degree murder, aggravated vehicular homicide and multiple counts of attempted murder. He is expected to appear in court on Friday.
What happened on Thursday?
The streets of Times Square, a bustling tourist district, were crowded with visitors as the car drove through the crowd.
The Honda sedan mounted the pavement on 45th Street and Broadway at 11:55 am local time (15:55 GMT) and drove at high speed for three blocks before crashing into a pole.
He stopped with the smoke and the flames escaping from the hood.
Then the victims lay on the ground, many of them separated from their shoes and scattered belongings, while medical personnel, policemen and passers-by tried to help them.
A pregnant woman at the scene said, “A man pulled me out of the car, I think he saved my life.”
The media say a ticket agent and a Planet Hollywood restaurant worker were among the people who helped police subdue and arrest Rojas.
What do we know about the victims?
The woman who died was 18 years old. Her name was Alyssa Elsman and she had been visiting from Michigan with her family.
He graduated last year from a high school in Portage, Michigan.
Her 13-year-old sister was also beaten and injured.
The 22 injured people included:
Cheryl Howard, who had been shopping with her daughter when the car hit her, bruising her head over her left eye and cutting her right arm
64-year-old retired teacher William Nelson, who was taken to hospital and sedated
Thomas Henry, 72, who told the New York Times he “thought it was a dream”
Ariel Lebowitz, 39, who could not remember the car that hit him, suffered a concussion
What do we know of Rojas?
Police believe he was high on synthetic marijuana, known as K2, ABC News reports, citing law enforcement sources. Initial tests reportedly came back negative for alcohol but positive for drugs.