One person was killed and twenty-two others were injured when 26-year-old Richard Rojas, a Navy veteran rammed his car into crowds of people in Times Square. Some people thought it was a terrorist attack. An attempted car-bomb attack in Times Square in 2010 was a potent memory for many. “Based on information we have at this moment, there is no indication that this was an act of terrorism,” Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters at a news conference near the scene of the rampage.
Rojas appeared to be under the influence of drugs when he mowed down the crowds of people. He was questioned by investigators but he just rambled on and talked about various things.
The car crossed 45th street before smashing into a barrier in front of the Marriot Marquis Hotel. Rojas tried to escape but was apprehended by traffic cops and citizens. The wrecked Honda stayed at the crash site through the day. Rojas tried to explain his reasons to law enforcement about what transpired but investigators had not come to any immediate conclusions. “He’s just rambling and saying crazy stuff,” said one of officials, adding that Mr. Rojas had talked of hearing voices and having hallucinations. “He tried to fight the police.
Officials said he tested negative for alcohol but a preliminary test indicated he was under the influence of PCP, he ended up asking for a lawyer and police were unable to keep questioning him.
Rojas has previous records for aggressive behavior, on May 11th he was arrested and charged with menacing and criminal possession of a weapon for threatening a man who had come to his apartment on Walton Avenue to notarize documents. On May 12, he pleaded guilty to harassment and received a conditional discharge. In April 2015, Mr. Rojas was arrested in Manhattan for driving while intoxicated. He was also arrested for driving under the influence in Queens in 2008, and pleaded guilty to a violation.
He served in the Navy from 2011 to 2014 but was dishonorably discharged, Naval officials would not disclose the reasons for his discharge. In September 2012, while stationed at a naval base in Jacksonville, Fla., he was arrested and charged with battery and resisting an officer after he refused to pay a taxi fare and beat up the cabdriver, according to records.
A friend of Rojas said that his friend began to express conspiratorial thoughts about the government when he returned to New York after being discharged. “He thought that everybody had control over him, they were trying to control his life and things he wanted to do in life.”