A Times Square motorist accused of steering his car onto one of the busiest sidewalks in the U.S. and mowing down pedestrians has been charged with murder and 20 counts of attempted murder, police say.
The New York Police Department said 26-year-old Richard Rojas, of the Bronx, was charged late Thursday also with five counts of aggravated vehicular homicide.
Rojas was arrested Thursday afternoon after he drove his car for three blocks in Times Square, hitting nearly two dozen people before steel security barriers finally stopped him. An 18-year-old tourist from Michigan was killed. Her 13-year-old sister was among the 22 injured, four of them critically.
Rojas is to be arraigned Friday. It wasn’t clear if he a lawyer.
Officials say he had served in the U.S. Navy but was discharged following disciplinary problems. After his arrest, he told police he was “hearing voices” and expected to die, two law enforcement officials said.
After the wreck he emerged from his vehicle running, yelling 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 swinging his arms at the same time, said Ken Bradix, a security supervisor at a nearby Planet Hollywood restaurant who tackled Rojas.
Rojas initially tested negative for alcohol, but more detailed drug tests were pending, according to two law enforcement officials who were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity. The officials said Rojas told officers he had been hearing voices.