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Suspect in deadly Times Square mayhem charged with murder


The New York Police Department says 26-year-old Richard Rojas, of the Bronx, was charged late Thursday with second-degree murder, 20 counts of attempted murder and aggravated vehicular homicide. It was unclear when Rojas, who was in custody, would get a lawyer or be arraigned.

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

An 18-year-old woman was killed and 22 others injured, including the woman's 13-year-old sister, officials said. The area had reopened to traffic.

After the wreck he emerged from his vehicle running, shouting and jumping before being subdued by police and bystanders in a chaotic scene. "He began screaming, no particular words but just utter screaming". He was tackled shortly after 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.

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The suspect, who suffered from "psychological issues", told police he expected officers to shoot him, according to the source.

There is no indication the incident was an act of terrorism and it is being investigated as an accident by the local authority.

He was charged with one count of murder in the second degree, aggravated vehicular homicide and multiple counts of attempted murder, a NY police spokesman said in an email late on Thursday.

The Independent spoke with one man, identified by the first name Landry, who claimed he helped detain Mr Rojas.

Only a week ago, Rojas was arrested at his apartment in the Bronx for threatening another man with a knife. In 2013, Rojas while in the Navy, pleaded guilty to drunken driving, failure to pay a just debt, drunk and disorderly conduct and communicating a threat.

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In previous arrests, he told authorities he believed he was being harassed and followed, one of the police officials said.

City officials last night said that the driver involved in the incident had been arrested in 2008 and 2015 for drink driving and earlier this month for menacing.

The security posts used in Times Square are created to stop a vehicle moving at 30 miles per hour, he said. He enlisted in 2011, served as an electrician's mate fireman apprentice, and was most recently based at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida. They don't indicate why. The circumstances surrounding the court-martial were not immediately available.

"There were a lot of people out, enjoying the good day, and then I heard screaming and the vehicle running over bodies", she said. An 18-year-old tourist from MI was killed. Her name was Alyssa Elsman and she had been visiting from MI with her family.

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