Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Everything we know so far about driver in deadly Times Square crash

The driver, a 26-year-old American citizen named Richard Rojas, was taken into custody by the police.

"Preliminary investigation reveals that Rojas has a few arrests and two of them are for DWI (driving while impaired)", the commissioner said.

"This is a tough day for New York City, but I want to thank our first responders who got here so quickly". ABC News cited unidentified police sources as saying Rojas had apparently been high on synthetic marijuana.

"There is no indication that this was an act of terrorism", Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

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The carnage happened in a part of the city that has always been considered a possible terrorist target because of its large crowds, a concern that became elevated after the September 11 attacks and compounded by recent attacks in England, France and Germany in which vehicles plowed through crowds of pedestrians. Security camera footage showed the auto slam into pedestrians who moments earlier were ambling along, some carrying shopping bags and others pushing baby strollers.

As of 5 pm (2110 GMT) on Thursday, police had not yet announced formal charges against Rojas in the Times Square incident, and he had not yet appeared in court. The vehicle eventually crashed and caught fire. He leaped out of the way to avoid being struck.

Shoes were scattered at the scene and one person was covered by a bloodstained blanket, the Reuters witness said. A police officer kept vigil nearby, sadly shaking his head. The auto traveled on the sidewalk for three blocks, striking and killing Alyssa Elsman, an 18-year-old woman from MI.

Hundreds of thousands of people, many of them tourists from around the world, pass daily through Times Square, the heart of the Broadway theater district. The bustling streets are heavily patrolled by police, some on horseback. After the crash, the driver climbed out of the vehicle and began to run away, witnesses and police said.

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He served in the Navy from July 2011 to March 2014, CBS News correspondent David Martin reports.

The two law enforcement officials say Rojas tested negative for alcohol, but drug tests were still pending.

Navy records also show he spent two months at a naval brig in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2013. The crash occurred outside the headquarters of the Reuters news agency, 3 Times Square. All of the buildings are evacuated and no one can get in, said Eikel. He said he looked out and saw what appeared to be a body in the street. "There were people on the ground all the way down the block to our left and all the way down the block to our right".

"A woman in front on the sidewalk was hit and tossed before then auto 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 vehicle speeding north on the west sidewalk of southbound 7th Ave". "She was a terrific young lady. and we will really miss her", Eric Alburtus, principal at Portage Central High School, said. "They mowed everyone down".

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He pleaded guilty to a harassment violation. VIDEO: Students from Philadelphia in Times Square at time of crashThe driver was tackled by pedestrians and taken into custody. It aimed to improve congestion and safety, but not all sidewalks were fitted with safety bollards.

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