Richard Rojas, 26-years-old, was a former US Navy soldier who was previously detained for drinking and drinking. The man said he “expected to die,” during the attack where he drove his car through an area crowded with people and killed one 18-year old girl, and injured 22 people.
He said to police after being arrested that the officers were supposed to kill him.
Mr. Rojas is charged second degree murder, 20 counts of attempted murder, and five counts of aggravated vehicular homicide.
He is scheduled for court on Friday.
The streets of Times Square, an area that is known for being packed with tourists and visitors, was disrupted by Rojas when he drove his car through the area littered with people.
The Honda saloon hit the sidewalk at Broadway and 45th street around 12:00 am, and he continued to drive his car very fast for 100 meters before smashing his car into a steel pole.
The car went up in flames. Afterwards, victims lay everywhere, most of them surrounded by their scattered belongings, as medical staff, police officers, and pedestrians attempted to help them.
A soon-to-be-mother said a man yanked her out of the path of the car and saved her life.
Ken Bradix, a man who worked for Planet Hollywood, said Rojas began screaming when he was out of the car. He wasn’t screaming specific words, but rather random gibberish while flailing his arms around.
He said, “there was something wrong with him.”
The event made people question if it may have been a terrorist attack, but it appears the man was mentally unstable and wasn’t claiming anything related with the Islamic State.
Police claimed the man was high on synthetic marijuana, also called K2. Tests conducted returned with negative results for alcohol but positive for synthetics.
According to media information, he has a history of violent crimes and misdemeanors. He was once arrested for threatening a person with a knife; he was arrested for drinking and driving in 2015; In 2012 Rojas was arrested for threatening to kill police, and he was detained again for impaired driving again in 2008.
A neighbor of Mr. Rojas said he came back from the Navy with a severe drinking problem. Harrison Ramos said he struggled after returning from the Navy, and when he was finally back in the country, nobody helped him.
Ramos said he was his friend and cared about him.
One investigator revealed to the New York Times that Mr. Rojas so far has offered no coherent explanation for his actions but has just said “crazy stuff.”