Man who ran over pedestrians was 'hearing voices'

Pauline Gross
May 19, 2017

A vehicle plowed into a crowd of pedestrians in NY s bustling Times Square on Thursday, leaving one person dead and at least 19 others injured in what officials said was an accident.

The dead woman was named by police as Alyssa Elsman, an 18-year-old who was on vacation with her family from MI.

"It is believed to be an isolated incident, it remains under investigation", NY police said on Twitter.

Jeremy Schultz/ReutersFirst responders are assisting injured pedestrians after a vehicle struck pedestrians on a sidewalk in Times Square in New York, May 18, 2017.

Witnesses said the motorist mounted the sidewalk in a burgundy Honda sedan and sped along for more than three city blocks, knocking people over before the auto hit a pole and came to rest at 45th Street and Broadway in Midtown Manhattan.

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 muscular door supervisor at a nearby Planet Hollywood restaurant.

Rojas initially tested negative for alcohol, but more detailed testing was being carried out, according to two police officials.

Last week, he was arrested and charged after allegedly threatening a notary with a knife. Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized American and Taliban-trained militant, later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life imprisonment.

He was arrested on charges of driving while intoxicated in 2008 and 2015, police Commissioner James O'Neill said.

There was no indication it was an act of terrorism, Mayor Bill de Blasio told a news conference at the scene.

The picture that quickly emerged of Rojas from neighbors and authorities was of a man with problems. Harrison Ramos said Rojas was not the same when he came back from active duty in 2014.

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Rojas enlisted in the US Navy in 2011 and served on the destroyer USS Carney in 2012.

Navy records show he spent two months in a military prison in Charleston, South Carolina, in the summer of 2013, but did not say why. They do not indicate why. Details were not immediately available.

Officers there told her there was an "unknown speeding auto", Sciutto said.

The crash happened midday on a hot, clear day that brought large crowds of people into the streets to enjoy the good weather.

Planet Hollywood said Bradix "selflessly and heroically took action, helping to stop the fleeing suspect". It appears the 26-year-old driver, a Bronx man, made a wrong turn and drove in the wrong direction for three blocks, str.

The driver was "just mowing down people".

Annette Proehl, a Pennsylvania resident, was in Times Square with children on a field trip when she heard a screeching tires vehicle and people screaming. President Donald Trump, whose home at Trump Tower is one mile from the crash scene, is aware of the incident and will be updated, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer tweeted.

Police cordoned off an area from 41st to 47th streets and from 6th to 8th avenues, effectively shutting down one of the busiest parts of one of the busiest cities in the world.

The sidewalks in many parts of Times Square and surrounding blocks are lined with metal posts created to prevent cars from getting onto the sidewalks and other public areas.

That network of barricades, though, is far from a complete defense.

Other reports by GizPress

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