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.
Others claimed he was also under the influence of PCP which causes hallucinations and mania. He told police once in custody that God made him carry out the attack, according to sources cited by CNN.
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.
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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
The driver, Richard Rojas, 26, eventually crashed his maroon Honda sedan into a pole and tried to flee the scene (above) as others watch on in terror
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
Planet Hollywood bouncer Ken Bradix (pictured wearing a black t-shirt and hat) was the first to stop the US Navy veteran. He tackled Rojas to the ground before NYPD officers got to him
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.
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
A bystander captured the moment the speeding car crashed into a pole, causing it to flying off the ground
The speeding vehicle struck 23 people before coming to a stop in the middle of Times Square just before noon
The driver reportedly has a history of driving under the influence. He was said to be ‘visually impaired’ when he was arrested
Alyssa Elsman, 18, was killed in the crash. The teenager from Michigan was visiting New York City with her family
Authorities said Rojas drove up Seventh Avenue in the wrong direction and made a U-turn onto the west sidewalk.
Police believe Rojas, who mas multiple DWI convictions, had been smoking marijuana before he got in the car
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.’
Rojas is pictured inside and then leaving Manhattan’s Seventh Precinct on Thursday. Police sources say he was rambling during interviews and claimed it was the last day on earth
Rojas was given a red t-shirt to wear by authorities after having his own clothes torn by a Good Samaritan at the scene who wanted to ensure he was not concealing any weapons
Police officers were stationed outside the driver’s Bronx home after the crash on Thursday afternoon
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
Forensic teams continued working at the site on Thursday afternoon. Rojas’s maroon Honda remained lodged against the pole it earlier crashed in to
Rojas’s Honda remained a crumpled heap at the foot of some of Times Square’s iconic billboards
Dozens of forensic investigators descended on the tourist destination on Thursday afternoon to begin piecing together the crime
Spilled soil from plant pots which were knocked over in the rampage remained on the ground next to the car
Headphones and sneakers which belonged to the victims were among scattered pieces of evidence
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
K2: The synthetic marijuana driver ‘smoked’ before going on murder-suicide spree
Senior police officials told media outlets on Thursday that Richard Rojas had been smoking K2 before he mowed down pedestrians at Times Square.
The drug is a synthetic form of cannabis and is growing in popularity at a frightening rate.
It is designed to look like marijuana and is sold at a lower rate but K2, also known as Spice, is a harmful blend of chemicals.
The drug has been known to cause erratic and dangerous behavior because it can make subjects immune to pain.
After a spate of frightening overdose cases which saw users walk around like in a zombie-like state, former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton called for it to be stamped out.
It was also named as the drug smoked by fallen NFL star Aaron Hernandez in his prison cell last month before he took his own life.
On Thursday, police officials said Rojas ‘rambled’ through interviews and said it was the last day on earth.
His delusional state is thought to have been brought on by the drug.
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