The man accused of driving his car on one of the busiest bike lanes in Times Square and the mowing of the pedestrians on Thursday told the police he wanted to “kill them all,” prosecutors said.
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In this image made from video provided by Oscar Navarro Reyes, Richard Rojas has been arrested after a fatal car accident in New York City on Times Square, on Thursday 18 May 2017. Authorities and witnesses said Rojas drove his car the wrong way a Times Square street and plowed into the pedestrians on the sidewalk. (Oscar Navarro Reyes via AP)
Richard Rojas, of the Bronx, was charged with murder, 20 counts of attempted murder and five counts of aggravated vehicle homicide, police said.
In court on Friday in Manhattan, prosecutors said Rojas told the police after he was arrested, that he wanted to “kill them all” and that the officers should have shot him. He also told me that he was “hearing voices.”
Rojas’ attorney did not respond on the matter.
The 26-year-old was arrested Thursday afternoon after his car flew into three blocks of Times Square, hitting almost two dozen people for steel security barriers finally stopped him.
An 18-year-old tourist from Michigan, Alyssa Elsman, was killed. Her 13-year-old sister was among the 22 injured, four of them critically.
The defendant served in the U.S. Navy, but was dismissed after disciplinary problems, military officials said.
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A broken car is on the corner of Broadway and 45th Street in New York’s Times Square after driving through a crowd of pedestrians
(Fox News Alex Vros)
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Several witnesses told Fox News after the driver crashed, he tried to escape, but he was eventually pinned to the ground by five people who have him on the scene until the police arrived.
“It sounded like a bomb going off,” said Dave Willis, a tourist from the U. K. “I walked over and it was over in seconds. He was tackled to the ground.”
Rojas initially tested negative for alcohol, but more detailed drug tests were requested, according to two law enforcement officials who were not authorized to speak publicly, and he told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. The officials said Rojas told officers he was hearing voices.
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The massacre unfolded in a part of the city, which has long been considered a possible terrorist target because of the large crowds, a concern that was raised after the Sept. 11 attacks and worsened by the recent attacks in England, France and Germany in which vehicles plowed through crowds of pedestrians.
Rojas’ motivation was unclear, but Mayor Bill de Blasio said that “there is no evidence that this was an act of terrorism.”
The police determined that the woman is killed by the car as Alyssa Elsman, of Portage, Michigan.
Elsman studied last year, Portage Central High School.
“If you don’t know her, you would think that they are reserved or shy,” head of school Eric Alburtus said. “But if you could talk with her for a minute, you would realize that they were guilty. She was bright. She was funny.”
Elsman, the 13-year-old sister was also hit by the car, but survived, police said.
The Assocated Press contributed to this report.