Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
USA | By Kelli Rowe

Accused Times Square driver's troubled past included Navy prison

Accused Times Square driver's troubled past included Navy prison

Sources say Times Square driver was apparently high on K2Photographers snapped pictures of suspect Richard Rojas, 26, after he climbed from the wrecked auto and ran through the street.

NY mayor Bill de Blasio said the suspect is a former US Navy serviceman and a US citizen and there is no indication it is connected to terrorism.

Police identified the woman killed by the auto as Alyssa Elsman, of Portage, Michigan.

The 26-year-old driver from the Bronx was taken into custody and was undergoing tests for alcohol, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press.

Rojas had been arrested at least twice previously for driving while intoxicated, once in 2008 and once in 2015, police said.

Police sources said the suspect, who has two previous arrests for drunk driving, was being tested for alcohol.

After a vehicle barreled through Times Square, allegedly driven by a man high on drugs, some bystanders came to the aid of the victims he hit as others went after the suspect.

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A wrecked auto is seen at 45th Street and Broadway in Times Square after a vehicle struck multiple people on May 18, 2017.

Patsy Sciutto, who works in Times Square, said she was meeting someone for lunch when an announcement came over a loudspeaker that the building was on lockdown because of an incident outside.

They said Rojas, a former US Navy veteran, has a record of drink-driving and is now being tested for alcohol and drugs.

"Today's events at Times Square were nothing short of horrific", he said in a statement.

"It is believed to be an isolated incident, it remains under investigation", NY police said on Twitter. In the death of 18-year-old girl more than 20 people are in hospitals with various injuries.

"He had the angriest, craziest face and he was literally going after people", Rickerby said.

"All of a sudden I heard this boom and a auto is barreling down Seventh Avenue hitting people, just, 'Boom!"

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"The guy got out of the vehicle, running, screaming - not any particular words - he was just screaming and flailing his arms", Bradix said.

"I saw the head injuries and the blood and the victims not moving; I realised... that a auto had ran into the crowd just minutes before". He saw one person covered up with a white cloth.

A fire department chief, Mark Foris, was at an unrelated elevator rescue when he saw the vehicle speed by. "It's a tough day for New York City, but as usual the people of New York City will stand firm, will be resilient".

The bouncer added that at the time, he was just doing what he thought was right.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer tweeted that Trump was briefed before NY authorities confirmed the death.

Broadway shows were scheduled to go ahead as planned on Thursday evening in the many theaters in the area, organizers said.

"I wasn't even all the way in when the vehicle sped by", perhaps 10 feet behind her, said Long, a 54-year-old who was in town to see a musical.

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Witnesses described seeing people being loaded on to stretchers, shoes scattered around the scene and people in bloodstained blankets.

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