A man steered his car onto a sidewalk running through Times Square and mowed down pedestrians for three blocks Thursday, killing a teenager, then emerged from his wrecked vehicle wild-eyed and screaming before he was subdued by police and bystanders.
The driver, a 26-year-old U.S. Navy veteran, told officers he was hearing voices and expected to die, two law enforcement officials said.
Helpless pedestrians had little time to react as the car barreled down the sidewalk and through intersections before smashing into a row of steel security barriers installed to prevent vehicle attacks on the square where massive crowds gather every New Year’s Eve. The car came to rest with its two right wheels in the air.
Police said 23 people were struck, including an 18-year-old tourist from Michigan who died. The woman’s 13-year-old sister was among the injured.
The carnage raised immediate fears of terrorism, fueled by recent attacks in England, France and Germany in which vehicles plowed through crowds of pedestrians. But investigators quickly turned their focus to the sobriety and mental health of the driver, identified as Bronx resident Richard Rojas.
“There is no indication that this was an act of terrorism,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
Photographers snapped pictures of Rojas after he climbed from the wrecked car and ran through the street before he was tackled by a group that included a muscular security supervisor at a nearby Planet Hollywood restaurant.
“He began screaming, no particular words but just utter screaming. He was swinging his arms at the same time,” said the bouncer, Ken Bradix. “There was something wrong…
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