The U.S. Navy recruit who drove his auto along a crowded Times Square sidewalk, killing a young woman and injuring many others, is due to appear in court in Manhattan on Friday to face charges of murder, attempted murder and vehicular homicide.
Although only one person was killed, a driver can face multiple counts of vehicular homicide under NY law if other people are seriously injured.
Rojas told police after he was tackled following the mayhem in Times Square that police should have shot him to stop him and that he wanted to “kill them all”, prosecutors said.
Around 11:55 US time (15:55 GMT), the 26-year-old US Navy veteran mounted his vehicle on the pavement of 45th Street and Broadway and drove at high speed before crashing into a pole.
A smashed auto sits on the corner of Broadway and 45th Street in New York’s Times Square after ploughing through a crowd of pedestrians at lunchtime on Thursday, May 18, 2017. Dosokey said police and ambulances arrived about two minutes later. The woman’s 13-year-old sister was among the injured, according to authorities.
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.
She continued: “I wouldn’t be here now if I hadn’t crossed the street”. I turn around because someone screamed. “I was scared for my life”.
Upwards of over 20 other people were injured between 42nd and 45th Street on that sidewalk.
Elizabeth Long, of Dayton, Ohio, told CNN she was walking to the Hard Rock Cafe when she saw a maroon vehicle heading toward her on the sidewalk. “I looked back and she was in a pile on the street”, Donahey said.
He said that’s because during the cab ride before the assault, he and Rojas had a long talk.
When Long went outside and looked in the direction the auto had gone, she saw at least six people lying on the ground, including a woman lying face-down with blood pouring from her head.
New York Police Department said 26-year-old Richard Rojas, of the Bronx, was charged with second-degree murder, 20 counts of attempted murder and aggravated vehicular homicide.
“Even through all of that, I felt so much empathy for him that I sort of understood that anger he was trying to release”, the driver said.
“I felt so bad. standing there”, not being able to do anything more to help, she said. “We initially thought they were filming something”.
More than 300,000 people pass through Times Square every day.
Elsman was in NY with her sisters, mother and a friend, CNN affiliate WOOD reported. She graduated a year ago from a high school in Portage, Michigan.
“Alyssa was a really thoughtful, really bright, very pleasant young lady”.
Officials are awaiting toxicology results, though Rojas “had glassy eyes, slurred speech, and was unsteady”, during his arrest, the complaint said.
“If you didn’t know her, you might think she’s reserved or shy”, school principal Eric Alburtus said.
Within moments of the incident, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and de Blasio rushed to the scene.
The White House said President Donald Trump was informed of the situation in Times Square and would continue to be briefed as it unfolded. There are many areas where vehicles could be driven onto packed sidewalks or public plazas. The bollards are created to stop vehicles going about 30 miles an hour, he said. Police shut down 43rd and 44th streets, which intersect Times Square, between 7th and 8th avenues.