The man who appeared to be intoxicated steered his vehicle onto a sidewalk running through the heart of Times Square on Thursday and mowed down pedestrians for three blocks, before he was tackled by bystanders, authorities said.
The driver of the auto, a 26-year-old Bronx man named Richard Rojas, reportedly has a history of DWI arrests.
But according to the original September 23, 2012, arrest report, Rojas was arrested on Wonderwood Drive after a short chase, telling the officer "I beat the s - - out of that cab driver and I'll tell you why, he said I owed him $162". Rojas had been arrested at least twice previously for driving while intoxicated, once in 2008 and once in 2015, police said.
Quoting unnamed police sources, ABC News said Rojas had apparently been high on synthetic marijuana when he crashed into his victims on Thursday. Charges against the driver are pending.
Twenty-six-year-old Richard Rojas was taken into custody Thursday after the crash that killed a teenager and injured 22 other people. The serious injuries included pelvic fractures, internal bleeding and head injuries.
Witnesses said they were afraid the crash may have been an act of terrorism.
A law enforcement official says a vehicle that plowed into a crowd of pedestrians in Times Square killed one person and injured about 20 others.
In a phone interview, Wood said he was in the usual lunchtime crowd in Times Square when the man began driving down the sidewalk nearby. Everyone else started screaming. Pandemonium erupted when the vehicle barreled through the prime tourist location and slammed into a security barrier, coming to rest with two of its wheels in the air.
"There were people on top of the hood that were being flown over the sides and the girl who had been walking next to me. was in a heap on the ground, and she was clearly dead, and it just happened so quickly", she added. She bolted across the street.
The vehicle was on fire and one person lay covered up with a white cloth, he 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. Witnesses on social media described a speeding auto plowing into people before crashing. "People screamed, they were running away.it was total chaos".
"I felt so bad ... standing there", not being able to do anything more to help, she said.
Proehl was hit by a piece of gravel but otherwise was not injured, she said. Many said it came out of nowhere. "We initially thought they were filming something".
Action News has learned the name of the victim killed in the crash in Times Square Thursday afternoon.
Less than an hour before being struck Alyssa had posted NY sightseeing videos to her Instagram account. She graduated Portage Central High School last summer.
"Alyssa was a really thoughtful, really bright, very pleasant young lady". But do you think that, if the suspect said, "Allah made me do it!" this story would have been covered differently no matter what drugs he was on?
Within moments of the incident, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and de Blasio rushed to the scene.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer tweeted that Trump was briefed before NY authorities confirmed the death.
The sidewalks around Times Square are secured with more than 200 steel bollards meant to prevent accidental or criminal vehicle intrusions, said Rob Reiter, chief security consultant for CalPipe Security Bollards. "He just kept going".