Man who ran over pedestrians was 'hearing voices'

Frederick Owens
May 20, 2017

A man steered his auto onto a sidewalk running through the heart of Times Square and mowed down pedestrians for three blocks, killing a teenager, then emerged from his wrecked vehicle wild-eyed and waving his arms before he was subdued by police and bystanders. A woman, 18, was reportedly pronounced dead at the scene and her sister was also injured, according to the news outlet.

Rojas enlisted in 2011 and was an electrician's mate fireman apprentice. He was most recently arrested last week in the Bronx on a charge of menacing. They don't indicate why. Police identified the woman as Alyssa Elsman, a resident of Portage, Michigan. And while he says those messages have since been deleted, they caused him to distance himself from Rojas.

Navy records show Rojas spent two months in a military prison in Charleston, South Carolina, in the summer of 2013 but do not specify why. They spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly.

After he was detained, he said he wanted to "kill them all" and police should have shot him to stop him, a prosecutor said in court Friday.

Rojas' mother brought in for questioning Thursday; she said nothing to reporters as detectives led her to a waiting vehicle.

One neighbor says Rojas is a "good person" and he doesn't know what happened to him.

Rojas, 26, who suffered from "psychological issues", told police he expected officers to shoot him, according to the source.

In addition to the murder charge, Rojas also faces 20 counts of attempted murder and five counts of aggravated vehicular homicide, according to a statement from the New York City Police Department.

Rojas drove his vehicle 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.

Officials are awaiting toxicology results, though Rojas "had glassy eyes, slurred speech, and was unsteady", during his arrest, the complaint said.

"You stole my identity", Rojas told the man, grabbing his neck in one hand while brandishing the knife in the other, according to a police spokeswoman. Rojas was charged with misdemeanor battery and resisting an officer without violence, but it was unclear how the case was resolved.

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Police say 26-year-old Richard Rojas struck 23 people in New York City's Times Square Thursday, killing a MI teenager, before his auto was stopped by a row of steel security barriers.

His family and friends who attended the hearing cried outside court and didn't speak to reporters.

The speeding auto jumped the sidewalk on the west side of 7th Avenue at 42nd Street and barreled into pedestrians for three blocks before crashing at the northwest corner of 45th Street, police said.

Rojas was in custody and unable to comment. They said he has a history of possible psychiatric, drug and alcohol problems, and investigators are looking into whether or not Thursday's crash may have been a deliberate act.

Police say the Bronx man was being tested for alcohol and drugs.

Parts of Times Square have been roped off to keep pedestrians, tourists and others away from the crash site.

Harlem resident Tyezhane, 20, who would only give her first name, said she was walking to work at a shoe store when she saw the vehicle on the sidewalk.

Lowe saw injured people, including a woman who "had tracks all over her body".

"He's just mowing down people".

The vehicle hit a barricade and stopped.

Other reports by LeisureTravelAid

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