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Times Square crash driver who killed tourist 'heard voices'

19 Mai 2017

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (C) addresses a news conference at the scene of the auto crash at Times Square in New York City, the United States, on May 18, 2017.

Authorities say the driver of a vehicle that rammed into pedestrians in New York City's iconic Times Square at lunchtime Thursday was high on a unsafe synthetic form of marijuana called "K2" - also known by the street names "Spice" or "Mr".

An 18-year-old MI tourist was killed and 22 other pedestrians at the popular tourist site were injured on Thursday when a former member of the US Navy with a history of drink driving, Richard Rojas, allegedly mowed down random people for three blocks in his speeding auto.

Police sources said the suspect, who has two previous arrests for drunk driving, was being tested for alcohol.

Officials said there's no indication this was an act of terrorism.

Rojas attended college and works in real estate, Ramos said.

He said he saw about five people who looked gravely injured, saying, "People, really bad, in front of us". I beat the s-t out of him. Police said he pointed a kitchen knife at a notary who'd come over to do paperwork, and he accused the notary of stealing his identity.

"Do you feel safe?"

Police cordoned off an area from 41st to 47th streets and from 6th to 8th avenues, effectively shutting down one of the busiest parts of one of the busiest cities in the world. He pleaded guilty to a harassment violation.

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Rojas has had multiple arrests, including two for driving while intoxicated, police said. The state motor vehicle department confirmed he was convicted of driving while impaired in both cases but still had a valid driver's license as of Thursday.

He was expected to appear in court on Friday at an arraignment hearing. He was in custody, and it wasn't clear if he had an attorney yet who could comment on his behalf.

Rojas enlisted in the Navy in 2011 and was an electrician's mate fireman apprentice.

He was also arrested in 2012 on suspicion of battery at the Mayport Naval Base in Jacksonville, Florida, where he was stationed at that time.

After the wreck, Rojas emerged from his vehicle running, yelling and jumping before being subdued by police and bystanders. He also told the officer that he had beaten a cab driver to whom he owed money and had been drinking at the time of the arrest, according to the report. He left the Navy in May 2014.

Police said the driver is in custody and this is believed to be an isolated incident.

The Michigan tourist, identified by sources as Alyssa Elsman, was visiting the Big Apple with her family, including her 13-year-old sister, when the speeding vehicle, driven by Richard Rojas, 26, slammed into them and almost two dozen others as he floored it up to West 45th Street just before noon.

Officers there told her there was an "unknown speeding vehicle", Sciutto said.