New York (CNN) – A man with a history of drunken driving, has been charged with murder after police say he barreled a car through the crowded sidewalks in Manhattan’s Time Square, leaving one person dead and injuring 22.
The deadly rampage on Thursday started after the driver allegedly made a U-turn, then steered the car into the packed sidewalk where it rammed dozens of pedestrians for a three block stretch. One surveillance video showed the maroon car jump the curb and slam into a group of people, sending bodies tumbling over the hood of the speeding Honda Accord.
The rampage killed Alyssa Elsman, an 18-year-old resident of Portage, Michigan, who had been visiting the city, and left four people in critical condition, officials say.
The suspect, Richard Rojas, of the Bronx, tested positive for PCP and told police that God made him do it, a law enforcement source told CNN.
Rojas, 26, who suffered from “psychological issues,” told police he expected officers to shoot him, according to the source.
In addition to the murder charge, Rojas also faces 20 counts of attempted murder and five counts of aggravated vehicular homicide, according to a press release from the New York City Police Department. The five counts of aggravated vehicular homicide is for the death of Elsman and four injured people who were in critical condition. They are expected to survive, officials said.
NYC Health + Hospitals Bellevue said it was treating four patients in critical condition and two in serious condition Thursday night.
Rojas has been arrested twice in New York — in 2015 and 2008 — for drunken driving, New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill said. In 2013, Rojas while in the Navy, pleaded guilty to drunken driving, failure to pay a just debt, drunk and disorderly conduct and communicating a threat. A military judge sentenced him to three months confinement.
There is no indication the incident, which unfolded just before noon, was an act of terrorism, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and other officials said. It is being investigated as an accident, a police official said.