26-Year-Old Suspect Arrested After Driving into Times Square Crowd, Killing 1 and Injuring 22
According to reports, authorities do not suspect terrorism
One person was killed and 22 were injured when a car struck pedestrians in New York City’s Times Square, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a Thursday press conference.
According to de Blasio, there is “no indication that this was an act of terrorism.”
N.Y.C. Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill said at a Thursday news conference there is a suspect in custody: Richard Rojas, 26, from the Bronx, a former member of the U.S. Navy.
“Preliminary investigation reveals that Rojas has two arrests … for DWI,” O’Neill said.
Rojas is getting tested for alcohol and drugs, officials said. It was not immediately clear if he has entered a plea or retained an attorney.
The fatal victim was identified as 18-year-old Alyssa Elsman, an N.Y.C. police source tells PEOPLE.
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The suspect allegedly was driving a red 2009 Honda Accord and mounted the sidewalk on the west side of 7th Avenue and 42nd Street and then continued at a high speed to 45th Street, O’Neill said. The car came to a stop when it collided with a metal obstruction.
The 22 injured people have been transported to local hospitals, said O’Neill. Four are in critical condition, according to DNY Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro.
Among the injured was the 13-year-old sister of the fatal victim, said Nigro.
According to witnesses, the casualties may have been more severe if the car had not been stopped by the barriers.
Alphe Balde, a ticket agent for a tour bus company who witnessed the incident, told a CBS reporter reporter that immediately after the crash, the driver allegedly tried to run away from the scene before being punched by an employee of the Planet Hollywood restaurant.
At that point, Balde and several others jumped on top of him and held him down until officers arrived. The NYPD confirmed in the press conference that Rojas’ apprehension involved officers and civilians.
Balde alleged the driver was driving fast and did not appear to use his breaks.
‘My Saddened Heart’
Celebrities were among those who took to social media to share their reactions to the crash.
Law & Order: SVU star Mariska Hargitay tweeted that she was “amazed and grateful” for work of police and fire first responders.
“My saddened heart is with those affected and their families,” she wrote.
Former Wanted singer Nathan Sykes wrote on Twitter that he was in Times Square only a week ago. He added, “Sending all thoughts and prayers to those affected today.”