Richard Rojas charged with murder after Times Square crash
- Author: Zachary Reyes May 26, 2017,
May 26, 2017, 2:21
After the incident today in Times Square, I joined NYPD and FDNY to update New Yorkers on what happened.
Christopher Beekharry, his wife Sunita Prasad and their two children, ages 3 and 6, were visiting from the South American CARICOM nation of Guyana and touring Times Square, New York with their uncle on Thursday, May 18 when they saw a auto racing towards them on the side walk.
Officials said Rojas served in Navy but was discharged following disciplinary problems. He pleaded guilty to harassment.
The driver, a 26-year-old US Navy veteran, told officers he was hearing voices and expected to die, two police officials said.
Rojas, who is from the Bronx area of New York City, had been arrested twice for drunken driving, in 2008 and 2015, and once this month on a charge of menacing for threatening another man with a knife, police said.
NY mayor Bill de Blasio said there was "no indication that this was an act of terrorism".
A wrecked vehicle sits in the intersection of 45th and Broadway in Times Square, on Thu., May 18, 2017 in New York City.
Rojas then drove the wrong way up three and a half blocks of Seventh Avenue sidewalk, accelerating and intentionally steering his vehicle into fleeing pedestrians in an apparent bid at suicide-by-cop. The apartment building where Rojas lives in the Bronx was cordoned off by police Thursday.
He had enlisted in the Navy in 2011, serving overseas the USS Carney in 2012, before reportedly being dishonorably discharged in 2014. Navy records show that in 2013 he spent two months at a naval brig in Charleston, South Carolina. Details were not immediately available. An 18-year-old tourist visiting from MI died in the crash.
His dad had been trying to get tickets for the Broadway play "Six Degrees of Separation" when he was hit, he said - a fact his son learned only after the emergency.
Elsman graduated a year ago from Portage Central High School.
Three people remain in a critical condition with serious injuries and another person suffered a collapsed lung and broken pelvis.
Rojas' lawyer didn't comment Friday.
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.
"Out heart goes out Alyssa, her family, all those that were injured yesterday for what they encountered", Aubry said.