Thursday, 25 May, 2017

Man charged with murder after car mows down pedestrians in Times Square

Kayla Schwartz | 19 May, 2017, 18:00

In the Times Square incident, Rojas was charged with one count of murder in the second degree, aggravated vehicular homicide and multiple counts of attempted murder, a NY police spokesman said in an email late on Thursday.

The driver was tackled by pedestrians and taken into custody. One young woman was killed and 22 people injured after a auto plowed into pedestrians in Times Square on Thursday, officials said.

Times Square averaged about 360,000 daily visitors in April, according to a tally by the Times Square Alliance, making it one of the most visited locations in the world.

The driver of the auto that careened through New York City's Times Square on Thursday was a U.S. Navy veteran who had been arrested at least four times before for offenses including drunk driving and threatening someone with a knife, according to police officials and public records.

The suspect, Richard Rojas, of the Bronx, tested positive for PCP and told police that God made him do it, a law enforcement source told CNN. Rojas remained in custody Thursday night.

Annette Proehl of Pennsylvania, was in Times Square with children on a field trip when she heard the screeching tires of the vehicle and people screaming.

His most recent base was at Jacksonville in Florida but he was discharged three years ago after being court-martialled for reasons that have not been disclosed.

Rojas enlisted in 2011 and was an electrician's mate fireman apprentice. Those in the area were told to shelter in place while emergency crews swarmed the scene.

It was not immediately clear when Rojas would get a lawyer or be arraigned.

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Photographers snapped pictures of Rojas after he climbed from the wrecked vehicle and ran through the street before he was tackled by a group that included a ticket seller and a doorman at a nearby Planet Hollywood restaurant.

There is no indication it was an act of terrorism, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and other city leaders said.

"It's a tough day for New York City, but as usual the people of New York City will stand firm, will be resilient", de Blasio said in a news conference. The five counts of aggravated vehicular homicide is for the death of Elsman and four injured people who were in critical condition.

She graduated from Portage Central High School. "Every interaction I had with her was positive", school principal Eric Alburtus told the Grand Rapids station.

"Alyssa was a wonderful young lady", he said. "But if you could talk to her for a minute, you'd realize she was engaging. The more you got to know her, the more you would realize she was amusing, and thoughtful, and compassionate to other people". She also had a boyfriend.

Elsman was in NY with her sisters, mother and a friend, CNN affiliate WOOD reported. "She was the one person that brought my son joy". She was visiting New York City with her mother and sister and they were scheduled to return to MI later Thursday.

Before the crash, her 13-year-old sister posted a video on Instagram showing a view of bustling Times Square. She heard screaming. Fearing the auto would hit her, she ran to a nearby building's revolving door.

"My niece", Dusek said.

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