Canadian woman, 38, critically injured in Times Square crash

Elias Hubbard
May 22, 2017

A Times Square motorist accused of steering his vehicle onto one of the busiest sidewalks in the USA and mowing down pedestrians has been charged with murder and 20 counts of attempted murder, police say.

Rojas, who did not enter a plea, appeared subdued during the hearing and will return to court next week.

Officials say he had served in the U.S. Navy but was discharged following disciplinary problems.

Rojas drove his auto from the Bronx to Times Square, where he sped into the bustling Crossroads of the World, hitting almost two dozen people on the sidewalk before steel security barriers finally stopped him, authorities said.

The vehicle eventually stopped on top of a stanchion, a metal barrier, before bursting into flames.

"That goes to his state of mind", said William Aubry, assistant chief of the New York Police Department.

According to a criminal complaint presented by prosecutors, Rojas displayed glassy eyes and slurred speech at the scene, telling an officer, "I smoked marijuana".

Regarding the Rojas incident, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said there was "no indication that this was an act of terrorism". "At the root of this, from what we know so far, is an untreated mental health issue going back probably decades". Police said the young woman killed on the sidewalk was Alyssa Elsman, 18, who was on vacation with her family from MI. People were leaving flowers, photographs of Elsman and a stuffed teddy bear on Friday near the spot where she died.

Her sister remained in the hospital in critical condition, with a collapsed lung and broken pelvis, Aubry said. Her 13-year-old sister was injured.

Rojas drove his auto from the Bronx to Times Square, where he sped into the bustling Crossroads of the World, hitting almost two dozen people on the sidewalk before steel security barriers finally stopped him, authorities said.

"Richard Rojas, he's a 26-year-old individual from the Bronx".

They were reportedly on a family vacation in NY. It was unclear if Rojas has a lawyer. Navy records show Rojas enlisted in September 2011 and was based in IL and Florida, working as an electrician's mate fireman apprentice.

During his arrest Thursday, Rojas allegedly told police: "You were supposed to shoot me!" Carney. In 2013, he spent two months at a naval brig in Charleston, South Carolina, according to Navy records, which do not indicate the charges against him at that time.

News reports Friday drew a portrait of a troubled young man who seemed changed when he returned home in 2014 from a three-year stint in the US Navy.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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