Update May 19:
Richard Rojas, the driver who mowed down 23 people in Times Square on Thursday, said he was high on marijuana and PCP during his deadly spree.
“I smoked marijuana. I laced the marijuana with PCP,” Rojas told police, the New York Post reported.
Rojas intended to commit suicide-by-cop. “You were supposed to shoot me! I wanted to kill them,” he yelled at police after the horrific daytime scene, the Post reported.
Rojas killed 18-year-old Michigan tourist Alyssa Elsman. Her 13-year-old sister is recovering from a broken leg. Elseman’s father drove from Michigan with his son to see his hospitalized daughter before going to Midtown South screaming that he wanted to kill Rojas. He was taken to Bellevue to calm down, The Post reported.
Rojas was charged Thursday evening with murder in the second degree and five counts of aggravated vehicular homicide hours.
A young woman died and 22 people are injured, four critically, after a speeding Honda Accord plowed through a pedestrian-filled sidewalk in Times Square just before noon on Thursday.
Alyssa Elsman, the 18-year-old woman who died at the scene, was a tourist from Michigan, according to the NYPD. She graduated from Portage Central High School last year, the Detroit Free Press reported. Her 13-year-old sister was with her and was injured in the incident.
Twenty-one other people were injured; four are in critical condition, according to officials. All are expected to survive.
The driver, a 26-year-old male, was identified by authorities as Richard Rojas, 26, of the Bronx. Rojas attempted to flee the scene, but was apprehended first by outraged citizens and then by NYPD officers. He allegedly punched a police officer, ABC reported. Officials believe Rojas was high on synthetic marijuana, commonly known as K2. He tested negative for alcohol, the Associated Press reported.
“The driver tried to run from the scene, and the bouncer from Planet Hollywood hit him, so we jumped on top of him and ripped his shirt, wanted to make sure he had no gun or knife on him,” a tour ticket agent told CBS2.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said Rojas is a veteran of the U.S. Navy with a history of two previous drunk-driving arrests and a May arrest for menacing.
“Based on the info we have at this moment there is no indication that this was an act of terrorism,” De Blasio said at a press conference in Times Square after the crash.
Within minutes of the crash, witnesses reported on social media that the car had driven onto the sidewalk and struck random passersby before crashing against a pole and coming to a rest at 45th Street and Broadway.
The area was shut down by the NYPD and nearby offices instructed tenants to “shelter in place.”
Charges against Rojas are pending.
One male in custody in the #TimesSquare vehicle collision.
It is believed to be an isolated incident, it remains under investigation.
— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) May 18, 2017
— FDNY (@FDNY) May 18, 2017
What’s happening in Times Square?? This car was in the sidewalk and people are on the streets pic.twitter.com/PsepRtfrAr
— gb (@gb__) May 18, 2017
People are laying on the sidewalks in Times Square, a car seems to have run on the sidewalk. pic.twitter.com/g2efKLfoX8
— gb (@gb__) May 18, 2017
Times Square just went nuts. People screaming and running, the place is swarming with emergency vehicles and cops. People injured. WTF pic.twitter.com/oqQFcr75Uh
— Josh Silverman (@Bad_Episode) May 18, 2017
Reuters and Kimberly M. Aquilina contributed to this report.