Man who ran over pedestrians was 'hearing voices'


A man accused of steering his vehicle onto one of the busiest sidewalks in the US and mowing down pedestrians has been charged with murder and attempted murder.

26 year old Richard Rojas, a United States navy veteran who was arrested twice previously for drunk driving, is now in custody.

A USA military veteran with a criminal past ploughed a vehicle into a crowd of people in New York's Times Square, killing one woman and injuring 22 other people.

The injured included Elsman's 13-year-old sister, Ava, according to Michelle Karpinski of Portage Public Schools.

It was not immediately clear whether Rojas had a defense lawyer. He is due in court in Manhattan later on Friday to face charges of murder, attempted murder and vehicular homicide.Rojas, who had served in the U.S. Navy, has prior convictions for drunk driving.

"He left his house at 10:30 yesterday morning, and at 11:54 he came to Times Square", Aubry said.

Police do not suspect a link to terrorism, but the vehicle was checked by the bomb squad and certain city landmarks were getting a beefed up police presence.

A smashed auto sits on the corner of Broadway and 45th Street in New York's Times Square after ploughing through a crowd of pedestrians at lunchtime on Thursday, May 18, 2017.

The picture that quickly emerged of Rojas from neighbors and authorities was of a man with problems.

Navy records show that in 2013 Rojas spent two months at a naval prison in Charleston, South Carolina.

Only a week ago, Rojas was arrested at his apartment in the Bronx for threatening another man with a knife. A law enforcement source said he was arrested in Florida on a driving under the influence charges, and was dishonorably discharged from the Navy.

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The officials weren't authorized to speak publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. Two law enforcement sources say Rojas claims he heard voices and investigators are looking into the possibility it was a deliberate act.

On Thursday evening, police were at an apartment where Rojas stayed with his mother in the Mount Eden section of the Bronx.

Witnesses said Richard Rojas appeared to be intoxicated, and he was taken into custody Thursday afternoon.

"Don't make him out to be a terrorist or something", Ramos said.

The cab driver, who was hospitalized, said Rojas had refused to pay a cab fare of $44.

A friend of the victim, Olivia Lemke, said the Elsman family went on a family trip once a year to NY. People quickly started trying to help the injured victims.

The incident does not appear to be linked to terrorism and is being investigated as an accident, according to New York City police, who are working with the FBI to investigate.

"A woman in front on the sidewalk was hit and tossed before then vehicle reached 44th st, continued plowing people down at full speed up to 45th street, where it was stopped after crashing into more people and the light post", posted Instagram user Ed G Val, who from across the street "saw the auto speeding north on the west sidewalk of southbound 7th Ave".

A auto traveling through Times Square has driven into a crowd of pedestrians, injuring several people.

"It's a tough day for New York City, but as usual, the people in New York City will stand firm and be resilient", de Blasio told reporters.