The driver of a car which plowed through a crowd of pedestrians in Times Square on Thursday apparently did so intentionally, hoping to kill innocent bystanders and then be shot dead by authorities.
Police arrested the suspect, 26-year old Richard Rojas, a former member of the US Navy now living in the Bronx, shortly after Rojas drove his car onto the sidewalk in one of Manhattan’s most popular tourist destinations, running down pedestrians.
An 18-year old woman was killed after Rojas’ car struck her. Another 22 people, including the woman’s 13-year old sister, were injured, 4 of them critically.
While authorities say the attack did not appear to be terror-related, Rojas did intend to kill as many victims as possible during his vehicular rampage.
According to a report by the Associated Press, Rojas was upset with police for arresting and not killing him at the scene, saying “You were supposed to shoot me!”
Rojas then admitted that his actions were intentional and premeditated, and not the accidental result of drunk driving as initially believed by police.
“I wanted to kill them,” Rojas said.
Authorities say Rojas claimed he heard voices prior to the attack, and tested positive for drugs after he was arrested. Police believe he used K2, a synthetic form of marijuana, prior to the attack.
Rojas has a long record of criminal offenses and disruptive behavior. In 2008 he was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, and in 2012 he was arrested for attacking a cab driver and threatening to murder police officers. In 2013 Rojas spent two months in a military prison for reasons that have yet to be released. In 2015 he was again arrested for drunken driving, and earlier in 2017 he was arrested for threatening someone with a knife.