U.S.

'Troubled' Times Square driver charged with murder

'Troubled' Times Square driver charged with murder

A US Navy veteran who plowed a auto into pedestrians in New York's Times Square, killing a woman and injuring 22 other people, has been charged with murder and attempted murder, police said Friday.

Richard Rojas was charged with one count of second-degree murder, 20 counts of attempted murder, and five counts of aggravated vehicular homicide.

Rojas, a 26-year-old Bronx man who had been discharged from the U.S. Navy following disciplinary problems, told police he was hearing voices and expected to die, two law enforcement officials told The Associated Press.

Rojas went running through the street before he was subdued by police and bystanders, and taken into custody.

She was killed and her 13-year-old sister seriously injured, along with 21 other pedestrians who lay scattered on the sidewalk.

A Navy official says Richard Rojas had been discharged as the result of a special court martial.

Rojas has been arrested twice in New York - in 2015 and 2008 - for drunken driving, New York Police Commissioner James O'Neill said. He was also detained earlier this month for menacing.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio stressed that there was no indication the incident was an act of terror. "He was swinging his arms at the same time", said Ken Bradix, a security supervisor at a nearby Planet Hollywood restaurant who tackled him. The Bronx native enlisted to the US Navy in 2011 and spent two months at a naval prison in SC in 2013.




After his U-turn, police said Rojas continued to accelerate as he sped down the sidewalk for three full blocks, striking 21 pedestrians, one of whom died from her injuries.

Harrison Ramos, a friend of Rojas, said he wasn't the same when he came back from the Navy in 2014.

Officers are awaiting toxicology results but a police official said Rojas had "glassy eyes, slurred speech and was unsteady" during his arrest on Thursday.

Alyssa Elsman, 18, of Portage, Michigan, was visiting NYC with her mother and younger sister when tragedy struck Thursday afternoon. In 2012, he served aboard the USS Carney, a destroyer homeported in Mayport.

Here's a minute-by-minute timeline, as released by police: 10:30: Rojas leaves his home in the Bronx 11:00: Rojas plate is scanned as he enters Manhattan from the Bronx 11:48: Rojas is driving southbound on Broadway at 52nd Street 11:50: Rojas is on 48th Street and Seventh Avenue 11:52: Rojas is on 47th Street and Seventh Avenue 11:54: The first 911 call comes in. Portage Central High School principal Eric Alburtus described his student as "smart, amusing and engaging".

Navy records also show he spent two months at a naval brig in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2013.

The Honda remained in Times Square for most of the day as police conducted their investigation.


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