By APB Staff Writer
May 19, 2017: New York City
Richard Rojas has been charged with 20 counts of second-degree attempted murder and five counts of aggravated vehicular homicide following a Thursday incident where the twenty-six year old Navy veteran from the Bronx drove his Honda onto a Times Square sidewalk, hitting 23 pedestrians and killing an 18 year-old woman.
Rojas enlisted in the Navy in 2011. He served as an electrician’s mate fireman apprentice, mostly based in Florida.
While stationed in Jacksonville, Rojas was arrested for battery and resisting an officer without violence, both misdemeanors.
An arrest report from the Jacksonville Florida Sheriff’s Office said Rojas yelled at an officer, “my life is over,” and threatened to kill police after his release from jail. 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.
Rojas drove his red 2009 Honda Accord onto the sidewalk at 42nd Street and Seventh Avenue at 11:55 AM, barreling down the sidewalk along Seventh Avenue for three blocks, and hitting pedestrians before crashing into a metal stanchion at the northwest corner.
The 18-year-old victim was identified by police as Alyssa Elsman of Portage, Michigan She was hit between 42nd and 43rd Streets and pronounced dead at the scene. Elsman’s 13-year-old sister was also struck by the car, but is expected to survive.
The NYPD said that Thursday’s incident appeared to be an isolated one however Mayor De Blasio noted that key locations in the city were being reinforced with extra police as a precaution.