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Times Square crash driver ‘heard voices’

The Navy veteran suspected of driving his car into pedestrians in New York reportedly told police he had been hearing voices at the time

19 May 2017, 8:36am
Richard Rojas was arrested after ramming his car into pedestrians, one of whom died
Richard Rojas was arrested after ramming his car into pedestrians, one of whom died
A man who drove a car 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.

A US Navy veteran, identified as Richard Rojas, 26, from the New York City borough of the Bronx, ploughed his car into pedestrians in New York City's packed Times Square on Thursday, killing an 18-year-old woman and injuring 22 people.

The burgundy Honda sedan jumped the sidewalk at 45th Street and Broadway at 11:55 local time (4:55pm CET) and drove at high speed for three blocks, knocking people over, before crashing into a pole and coming to rest at 45th Street and Broadway in Midtown Manhattan.

The victim was named by police as Alyssa Elsman, who was on vacation with her family from Michigan.

Rojas said he expected to die, the sources told AP news agency. According to Reuters news agency, he said after being arrested: "You were supposed to shoot me! I wanted to kill them."

The city's mayor, Bill de Blasio, said there was no indication it was an act of terrorism.

Rojas was charged with one count of murder in the second-degree, aggravated vehicular homicide and multiple counts of attempted murder, a New York police spokesman said late on Thursday.

He was expected to appear in court on Friday at an arraignment hearing.

Rojas had previously been arrested twice for drunken driving, in 2008 and 2015, and once this month on a charge of menacing for threatening another man with a knife, police said.

A source for the New York Police Department told Reuters Rojas was believed to have been under the influence of some intoxicating substance at the time of Thursday's incident, but preliminary test results for alcohol came back negative.

ABC News cited unidentified police sources as saying Rojas had apparently been high on synthetic marijuana.

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