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19 May 2017, 11:56 | Terri Saunders
Richard Rojas Robert Mecea
Police said 23 people were hit by the vehicle, including an 18-year-old tourist from Portage, Michigan, who died.
Police confirmed Rojas drove his vehicle for 3 blocks, hitting more than 20 people before crashing into security barriers in one of the busiest areas of New York City.
"Times Square, we got a auto running people over on 42-7, going northbound on 7th ave, running people over", one NYPD dispatcher said, according to audio clips from Broadcastify.
Police officers in protective clothes look over evidence at the scene of a fatal auto crash, where a man steered his vehicle onto a sidewalk and mowed down pedestrians, in Times Square, New York, Thursday, May 18, 2017. Her 13-year-old sister was with her at the time, and was injured in the incident.
Richard Rojas, the driver accused of plowing his auto against a crowd in Times Square on Thursday, has been charged this morning with one count of second degree murder, 20 counts of attempted murder and 5 counts of aggravated vehicular homicide.
Mr Rojas reportedly told police: "You were supposed to shoot me, I wanted to kill them".
Times Square was the scene of the most serious security alert in New since the September 11, 2001 attacks when Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani immigrant, planted a auto bomb at the intersection on May 1, 2010.
A week ago he was arrested and charged with pointing a knife at a notary, whom he accused of stealing his identity.
Victim Alyssa Elsman, 18, was a tourist from MI.
A neighborhood friend in the Bronx, Harrison Ramos, said Rojas wasn't the same when he came back from the Navy in 2014. In previous arrests, he told authorities he believed he was being harassed and followed, one of the police officials said.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio told WNYC Radio Friday that Rojas had "demonstrated mental health issues going back to childhood" that "went unaddressed even during the time he was in the USA military".
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Rojas has several prior criminal cases that paint a picture of a troubled man. It is being investigated as an accident, a police official said. He pleaded guilty and said he was aiming to avenge deaths from USA missiles fired from drones operating over Pakistan. Rojas's lawyer and weeping supporters had no comment. He also told the officer that he had beaten a cab driver to whom he owed money and had been drinking at the time of the arrest, according to the report.
He was arrested on charges of driving while intoxicated in 2008 and 2015, police Commissioner James O'Neill said.
Mr Rojas enlisted in the Navy in 2011 and was an electrician's mate fireman apprentice. In 2012 he served aboard the U.S.S.
Navy records show that in 2013 he spent two months at a naval brig in Charleston, South Carolina, but didn't indicate the reason.
He spent his final months in the Navy at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida, before being discharged in 2014 as the result of a special court martial, a Navy official said.
The crash happened at midday on a hot, clear day that brought large crowds of people into the streets to enjoy the good weather.
"I was just doing something that I hope people would do, because I was trying to do the right thing", he said.
Elsman graduated past year from Portage Central High School. "I don't think there was actually time for screaming".
"I saw the head injuries and the blood and the victims not moving; I realised... that a auto had ran into the crowd just minutes before".
On Thursday evening, police were at an apartment where Rojas stayed with his mother in the Mount Eden section of the Bronx.
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