A man is in custody in America after driving a car into a crowd of pedestrians in New York’s Times Square, killing one person and injuring 22.
Richard Rojas has now been charged with second-degree murder, aggravated vehicular homicide and multiple counts of attempted murder.
Law enforcement officers said that Rojas ‘heard voices’ and was high on synthetic marijuana.
The US Navy veteran caused havoc in New York yesterday afternoon when he steered his vehicle onto the sidewalk in one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations.
Who is Richard Rojas?
Richard Rojas is a 26-year-old US Navy veteran who lives in the Bronx. New York police said he was high on synthetic marijuana, known as K2 in the US or Spice in the UK. Initial tests carried out by the NYPD came back negative for alcohol but positive for drugs. Reports claim he told police he had been ‘hearing voices’
US media report that Rojas has a history of offending and has spent two months in a military prison in South Carolina, although the reasons for this are unclear. He has been arrested for threatening a person with a knife and drink-driving. In 2012 he he attacked a taxi driver in Florida was charged with misdemeanour battery and resisting an officer without violence.
One of Rojas’ New York neighbours told Reuters that he suffered from an alcohol abuse problem. Harrison Ramos said: ‘He went through a real tough time. Don’t make him out to be a terrorist or something. He served his country and when he came back, nobody helped him. That’s my friend. I care about him, and it hurts.’
What happened in Times Square?
At around 17.00 BST yesterday, Richard Rojas drove a red Honda saloon drove the wrong way down the road at high speed for three blocks before mounting the pavement at the corner of W 45th Street and Broadway. The car slammed into a crowd of pedestrians, killing one person and injuring a further 22. The vehicle came to a standstill partially on its side propped against metal bollards, smoke pouring from the engine.
Emergency services immediately poured onto the scene to help the victims who were scattered on the pavement. A worker at Planet Hollywood and one other bystander are said to have helped police subdue Rojas.
The Planet Hollywood worker, Ken Bradix, said: ‘He began screaming, no particular words but just utter screaming. He was swinging his arms at the same time. There was something wrong with him.’