Motorist Crashes into Times Square Crowd, One Killed


NEW YORK (AP) - A man who was behind the wheel of a vehicle that barreled through crowds of pedestrians in Times Square told police after his arrest that he had been smoking marijuana laced with the hallucinogenic drug PCP, according to a criminal complaint.

Police identify the driver of the auto as Richard Rojas, a Navy veteran from the Bronx.

A man who drove a vehicle along three blocks of pavement in New York's Times Square, killing a teenager and injuring 22 people, said he had "heard voices", according to law enforcement sources.

The body of a young woman identified as Alyssa Elsman, 18, a visitor from Portage, Michigan, lay covered with a bloodstained sheet at 43rd Street.

Amid the havoc, there was at least one affirming moment, as recounted by a pregnant 38-year-old teacher from Baltimore who would only give her last name, Martin. It was unclear if Rojas has an attorney.

Officials say he had served in the U.S. Navy but was discharged following disciplinary problems.

The New York Police Department has a station right in Times Square, at 43rd Street and Seventh Avenue, so the response to the incident was nearly instantaneous.

A bouncer from the Planet Hollywood restaurant and a ticket agent were among onlookers who helped police subdue the suspect when he tried to flee the scene, media reports said. Police said he was intoxicated as he knocked pedestrians into the air while speeding for three blocks in his burgundy Honda sedan through one of the city's busiest areas.

One official says Rojas told authorities when arrested previously that he believed he was being followed.

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Navy records show that in 2013 he spent two months at a naval brig in Charleston, South Carolina, but not indicate why.

Following his arrest shortly after the crash at around noon, Rojas was transported to a testing facility to determine whether he had drugs or alcohol in his system. Police are looking into whether he was driving under the influence of drugs and say charges are pending.

Rojas was taken to Bellevue Hospital rather than to the city's central booking facility after being detained at a police precinct on Manhattan's Lower East Side, according to the police source who spoke to Reuters. "I wanted to kill them", law enforcement sources quoted the accused as telling police following his arrest, the BBC wrote.

The apartment building where Rojas lives was cordoned off by police Thursday.

He was expected to appear in court on Friday at an arraignment hearing. Rojas' lawyer, Enrico Demarco, had no comment.

"Don't make him out to be a terrorist or something", Ramos said. "Local officials are investigating the cause of the incident", it said in a statement.

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. "And now that she's gone, I don't know how I'm going to fill that void", Mr West said.

"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".

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