Man who ran over pedestrians was 'hearing voices'


An 18-year-old woman killed by a vehicle that barrelled down a pavement in New York's Times Square was a tourist, police said.

After Rojas crashed, he fled the scene but was detained by police and civilians, police said.

Rojas, who lived with his mother in the Bronx, drove his vehicle Thursday from his home through Times Square, then made a U-turn, steered his auto onto a sidewalk, and roared back up the sidewalk, plowing through helpless tourists for three blocks before he crashed his auto into protective barriers. An 18-year-old tourist from MI was killed.

Alyssa Elsman, an 18-year-old tourist from Portage, Michigan, was killed and her 13-year-old sister is among the 22 people injured.

Law enforcement officials say a man accused of steering his vehicle onto one of the busiest sidewalks in the US and mowing down pedestrians for three blocks told police he was "hearing voices".

Photographers snapped pictures of a wild-eyed Rojas on Thursday after he climbed from the wrecked vehicle and ran through the streets.

"He began screaming, no particular words but just utter screaming. He was swinging his arms at the same time", said Ken Bradix, a security supervisor at a nearby Planet Hollywood restaurant who tackled him.

Two law enforcement officials say Rojas told police he was hearing voices and expected to die.

Officials said the deadly rampage began around noon near 42nd Street, when Rojas, traveling south on Seventh Avenue, inexplicably made a U-turn, mounted a curb on the west side of the one-way avenue and began to drive north against traffic but on the sidewalk.

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Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York City, said there was "no indication that this was an act of terrorism", after observers initially feared a repeat of recent incidents in Europe.

Rojas has several prior criminal cases that paint a picture of a troubled man.

A week ago he was arrested and charged with pointing a knife at a notary, whom he accused of stealing his identity. He pleaded guilty to an infraction in 2015 and was ordered to complete a drink-driving programme and lost his licence for 90 days. In previous arrests, he told authorities he believed he was being harassed and followed, one of the law enforcement officials said. Harrison Ramos said Rojas was not the same when he came back from active duty in 2014.

"He left his house at 10:30 yesterday morning, and at 11:54 he came to Times Square", Aubry said.

Rojas enlisted in the Navy in 2011 and was an electrician's mate fireman apprentice. In 2012 he served aboard the U.S.S. They do not indicate why. He is due in court in Manhattan later on Friday to face charges of murder, attempted murder and vehicular homicide.

He wasn't immediately available to comment.

The crash happened at midday on a hot, clear day that brought large crowds of people into the streets to enjoy the good weather.

Bruno Carvalho, a student at State University of New York Albany, said the auto approached quickly and passed him on the sidewalk. I turn around because someone screamed. She graduated past year from Portage Central High School. "Every interaction I had with her was positive", school principal Eric Alburtus told the Grand Rapids station.

I saw the head injuries and the blood and the victims not moving; I realised... that a auto had ran into the crowd just minutes before. "She was bright. She was amusing". The woman's 13-year-old sister was among the injured.