This is the shocking moment a driver believed to be high on synthetic marijuana tried to flee after plowing into pedestrians in New York City’s Times Square and telling police he wanted to ‘kill them all’.
The driver, identified as 26-year-old Richard Rojas of the Bronx, was dramatically taken into custody on Thursday after killing an 18-year-old girl and seriously injuring 22 others.
A crazed Rojas had allegedly attempted to flee police immediately after the crash and was pictured running across the road with his arms flailing. Police said Rojas got into a fistfight with an officer as they struggled to arrest him, before he was eventually bundled into a squad car.
Rojas allegedly told police that he wanted to murder the innocent pedestrians and then wanted cops to kill him as well, sources told the New York Post.
‘You were supposed to shoot me. I wanted to kill them,’ Rojas told police.
Law enforcement sources told Eyewitness News that he appeared to have been smoking the synthetic drug, also known as K2, before to the crash.
Rojas, a US military veteran, blew a 0.0 when tested for alcohol at the precinct following his arrest but initial testing came back positive for drug substances.
Richard Rojas, 26, dramatically tried to evade police after crashing into pedestrians in New York City’s Times Square on Thursday, killing an 18-year-old girl and injuring 22 others
The driver was dramatically taken into custody on Thursday after crashing into pedestrians on a sidewalk in the tourist hot spot. Several bystanders – including a Times Square tour operator and a Planet Hollywood bouncer – helped detain him
A Planet Hollywood bouncer can be seen holding Rojas by the back of his head before police took over. Officers say he got into a fistfight with a cop as they struggled to arrest him
Rojas told police he had been smoking marijuana before the incident unfolded.
Officials said Rojas was arrested in 2008 and 2015 for driving under the influence in Queens and Manhattan, and in 2016 for menacing in different areas of New York.
The New York Police Department closed off Times Square after the collisions occurred just before noon, at the corner of 45th Street and Broadway.
It comes as the 18-year-old who was killed was identified as Alyssa Elsman – a tourist from Michigan who was vacationing with her family.
Her bloodied body was pictured lying on the sidewalk under a sheet. She had been walking with her 13-year-old sister – who was also injured – when they were struck.
Injured victims were seen sprawled across the sidewalk as first responders and other pedestrians tended to them.
Of the 22 people hurt, police said that four people had been critically injured with open fractures and multiple traumas and three others were seriously injured – all were hospitalized. Some 15 more were not seriously injured, and were not hospitalized.
The driver was pictured running across the road with his arms flailing after crashing into a pole on the sidewalk
Shocked bystanders watched on as a crazed Rojas jumped around and ran across the street in an attempt to evade police
The driver was eventually tackled to the ground and bundled into a squad car
The speeding vehicle has struck at least 20 pedestrians on a sidewalk in New York City’s Times Square, killing one person and seriously injuring another four. The driver was arrested
The body of a person killed in the accident was pictured lying underneath a bloodied sheet
The driver reportedly has a history of driving under the influence. He was said to be ‘visually impaired’ when he was arrested
Rojas was pictured being led out of the NYPD Midtown South precinct in New York on Thursday afternoon
The 18-year-old who was killed has been identified as Alyssa Elsman. She was visiting from Michigan with her family
Authorities said the driver of the maroon Honda sedan drove up Seventh Avenue in the wrong direction and made a U-turn onto the west sidewalk.
He then plowed down pedestrians for three blocks before crashing into a pole and attempting to flee. Some witnesses said the driver kept speeding even when the body of a victim was clinging to his windshield.
The car came to rest with two of its wheels in the air. It was pictured leaning on a lamppost and steel barriers intended to block vehicles from getting onto the sidewalk.
Alpha Balde, a CitySightseeing ticket agent, and a bouncer from Planet Hollywood were among those to help tackle Rojas to the ground.
“We saw the driver running toward Planet Hollywood in the middle of the block,” Balde told the NY Daily News.
‘The bouncer from Planet Hollywood knocked him out. He knocked him out so bad you could see the blood coming out of his face. That’s when I jumped in, I grabbed him from his neck and within about one minute everybody’s there.
‘I ripped off his shirt… to make sure this guy doesn’t have anything under his shirt that’s going to damage you.’
‘He’s just mowing down people,’ said Asa Lowe, of Brooklyn, who was standing outside a store when he heard screaming. ‘He didn’t stop. He just kept going.’
After the car struck a barricade and stopped, the driver climbed out of his vehicle, Lowe said.
‘He just started running until people tackled him down,’ Lowe said. ‘Citizens just reacted.’
A woman, believed to be dead, was seen lying on the sidewalk with her face covered with a sheet. Other victims could be seen sprawled out across the pavement
Victims sprawled on the sidewalk were being tended to by first responders and other pedestrians
Pedestrian’s shoes were scattered at the scene as authorities treated the injured bystanders
An injured man was being treated on the ground after the collision at the Midtown Manhattan tourist site
Rojas had reportedly made a U-turn on Seventh Avenue and drove for three and a half blocks in the wrong direction, striking the victims, before crashing into a stanchion at the corner of 45th St and Broadway
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio both visited Times Square to assess the scene.
Cuomo released a statement in which he said: ‘Today’s events at times square were nothing short of horrific.’
He added: ‘As the facts continue to emerge, my heart goes out to the victims of this terrible tragedy, as well as their families.’
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.
‘Based on the information that we have at this moment, there is no indication that this was an act of terrorism,’ Mayor Bill de Blasio told a news conference at the scene.
Traffic all around Times Square is snarled up after the incident. Police are continuing to increase the size of the closed area to keep crowds away from the scene.
City authorities were nevertheless deploying extra police from anti-terror units to key locations around the US financial and cultural capital, home to 8.5 million, out of “an abundance of caution,” the mayor said.
Emergency services and bystanders help an injured pedestrian after a vehicle mounted the sidewalk in Times Square
Distraught pedestrians were spotted helping their injured friend on the sidewalk
This car mounted a curb and struck 14 people, killing one and seriously injuring another. It appeared to have caught fire after the crash
Witnesses said everyone just started running when the car rammed into a pole and came to rest at 45th Street and Broadway
A number of injured pedestrians were seen lying in the middle of the road as witnesses helped treat them
The New York Police Department closed off the area after the collisions occurred on on Thursday, just before noon, at the corner of 45th Street and Broadway