This is the harrowing moment a driver believed to be high on synthetic marijuana plowed into pedestrians in New York City‘s Times Square before telling police as he was arrested: ‘I 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 when he drove through crowds at the popular tourist destination.
A crazed Rojas tried to flee police immediately after crashing his maroon Honda sedan in to a pole 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 after he was arrested 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,’ he told police.
Law enforcement sources say that Rojas appeared to have smoked the synthetic drug, also known as K2, before to the crash.
Rojas, a former Navy electrician mate fireman’s apprentice who left service in 2014 and never served overseas, blew a 0.0 when tested for alcohol at the precinct following his arrest but initial testing came back positive for drug substances.
This is the harrowing moment a drug-crazed driver mercilessly plowed through pedestrians in Times Square on Thursday at 11.55am before telling police when he was arrested that he wanted to kill them ‘all’ and then be shot dead himself .
He was arrested at the scene moments later by NYPD officers after being stopped by a group of Good Samaritans which included a Planet Hollywood bouncer who tackled him to the ground and another man who tore off his shirt to ensure he was not wearing carrying any weapons
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.
Last week, he was arrested after pulling a knife on a man in the Bronx and asking him ‘do you feel safe?’. According to an arrest report obtained by DailyMail.com, he thought the man was trying to steal his identity.
Rojas was allowed to walk free after striking up a deal with the Bronx District Attorney’s Office.
‘When he was arraigned he pleaded to a lesser charge at the arraignment,’ a spokesman said.
Friends of the man said he appeared in high spirits on Wednesday night and gave no indication of what he was planning.
They told DNA Info that he had been drinking heavily and often spoke about ‘conspiracies, demons and devils’. After being arrested, he told authorities how he thought it was the ‘last day on earth’.
Rojas enlisted in the US Navy in 2011. He was stationed in Jacksonville, Florida, until 2014 when his military career came to an end.
US Navy officials have not yet confirmed the circumstances surrounding his departure from the Armed Forces. He never served overseas.
After the crash on Thursday, the NYPD closed off the ordinarily bustling Times Square at the corner of 45th Street and Broadway on Thursday.
Among those hit by the driver was 18-year-old Alyssa Elsman who died at the scene. The teenager was a tourist from Michigan who was vacationing with her family.
She was walking around Times Square with her 13-year-old sister who was also struck. Alyssa’s body lay lying on the ground on Thursday as first responders arrived at the scene.
Other injured victims were lay 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.
Authorities said Rojas 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.’
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