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Richard Rojas: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Richard Rojas, the Bronx man accused of driving a Honda Accord into a Times Square crowd, killing a teenage tourist from Michigan, is a former Naval electrician who allegedly told police he thought “the end of the world was coming.”

“You were supposed to shoot me! I wanted to kill them,” Rojas, 26, allegedly told police, according to The New York Post. The motive: He may have been trying to commit “suicide by cop.”

Rojas, whose car allegedly jumped a sidewalk and injured 23 people, killing 18-year-old Alyssa Elsman, was interested in Scientology, and police don’t think he was motivated by terrorism. However, ABC 7 is reporting that he told police “he thought the end of the world was coming.”

The New York Post is reporting, through police sources, that Thomas Elsman, Alyssa’s father, “went to the police precinct where the suspect was being held … and threatened to kill him” after driving to New York from Michigan following the tragedy. He was taken to a hospital to calm down, reported The Post.

The suspect “tested positive for PCP and told police that God made him do it,” CNN reported, adding that he expected officers to shoot him. However, authorities have not confirmed that account.

NBC News reported that the suspect was not drunk. Rojas is a U.S. citizen and military veteran with a criminal history, New York’s mayor said.

Rojas is accused of crashing his car onto a sidewalk in Times Square in New York, leaving behind a trail of blood and victims in the popular tourist spot. Four of the victims are in critical condition, the New York Post reports. Elsman, who died, was a car hop at a drive-in back in Michigan and was on a trip to New York with her family. (There is a GoFundMe site to help Alyssa’s family.)

Alyssa Elsman. (Facebook)

Rojas has a troubled past, including a series of arrests. Heavy has obtained a 2012 police report from Florida that shows he was once arrested for threatening to kill “all police” after being accused of assaulting a cab driver, although the case was dropped.

TMZ published a series of photos that showed Rojas acting crazed in the middle of the street after the crash, which allegedly occurred after he sped the wrong way down a prominent thoroughfare. Police hit Rojas with a string of murder and attempted murder charges on May 19.

richard rojas crash, times square crash

The suspect’s car. (Getty)

Note that some of the photos and videos in the story below are graphic and disturbing.

Here’s what you need to know:


1. The Suspect Is a Notary With Prior DUIs but Allegedly Tested Positive for Drugs & a Planet Hollywood Bouncer Helped Subdue Him

There were obviously initial concerns about terrorism. That’s because the scene of a vehicle ramming into a crowd at high-profile spots has become all too familiar. Terrorists, fueled by ISIS, have used that method in attacks in London, France, and Germany.

However, in Times Square, early reports pointed toward alcohol and, when that was ruled out, then drugs. According to CBS New York, the suspect “has two prior DWIs.” One was in Minnesota and one in Queens, reports NBC News.

It turned out that Rojas, who was born in the Bronx, didn’t have alcohol in his system. NBC New York reported that the suspect “blew a 0.0 when tested for alcohol at the precinct, but drug tests are pending.” ABC7 reported that Rojas allegedly tested “positive for drugs. Blood tests are underway to check for the presence of synthetic marijuana or PCP among other substances.”

According to CNN, police sources say PCP was allegedly found in Rojas’ system. However, other reports blamed synthetic marijuana or K2.

According to ABC7, witnesses reported the suspect seemed extremely impaired at the scene. “Rojas admitted smoking marijuana before driving, and when he was captured he told cops he wanted them to shoot him,” TMZ alleged.

Citizens rushed to subdue the suspect at the scene.

A video of his perp walk showed Rojas wearing a different color shirt than the photos of him at the scene. A witness told CBS that “the driver tried to run from the scene and the bouncer from Planet Hollywood hit him, so we jumped on top of him and ripped his shirt, wanted to make sure he had no gun or knife on him.” The ripped shirt might explain why he was later photographed wearing a red, not brown, shirt.

One of the critical people to intervene was Ken Bradix, the security guard at Planet Hollywood nearby.

“I turned around, I saw a car driving down 7th Avenue on the sidewalk and it was smoking,” Bradix said to Fox 5 New York. “[The driver] was screaming — no particular words — but he was screaming and flailing his arms in all kinds of directions.”

According to the television station, “Bradix ran to the middle of the street and he and a traffic agent tackled Rojas to the ground while cops raced over to cuff him. He said Rojas seemed like he was on something.”

Bradix told the AP that Rojas “began screaming, no particular words but just utter screaming. He was swinging his arms at the same time. There was something wrong with him.” According to BBC, the suspect allegedly later told police he had heard voices.

Rojas also has a May arrest for menacing. According to The New York Post, Rojas, “who is a notary, was arrested on May 11 in The Bronx for threatening someone who came to his house to get an annuity notarized. Rojas accused the person of stealing his ID, then put a knife to his throat, police sources said.” Although he was “charged with menacing and criminal possession of a weapon,” the Post reported, he pleaded guilty to harassment.

The car plowed into a crowd of pedestrians, jumping a curb. In a news conference, the police commissioner said the crash occurred at 11:55 a.m., when the 2009 Honda Accord mounted a sidewalk on the west side of 7th Avenue at West 42nd Street in Times Square.

The vehicle drove at high rate of speed, striking pedestrians on the way, injuring 23 in all, and killing the teenage girl, the commissioner said. The injury count had climbed throughout the day.

Videos captured the actual moment the car struck people. Be aware they are graphic.

According to NBC New York, in one of Rojas’ previous DUI cases, “he was driving faster than 99 mph in a 50 mph zone.”

The commissioner confirmed that Rojas was a resident of the Bronx with prior arrests, two for drunk driving (DWI). Investigators said in the news conference that they are looking further into his background.

The NYPD said within an hour after the crash that authorities don’t suspect terrorism.

Alyssa Elsman: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

An 18-year-old tourist from Michigan was fatally struck by an out-of-control driver in a Times Square crash that injured 22 other pedestrians.

Click here to read more

2. Rojas Served in the Military as an Electrician’s Mate & Was Accused in Florida of Threatening to Kill ‘All Police’

People attend injured persons moments after a car plunged into them in Times Square in New York on May 18, 2017. (Getty)

In a news conference, New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio said that the suspect is a U.S. citizen who served in the military and has a criminal history.

“The perpetrator is in custody. He’s a United States citizen and former member of the armed forces with the United States Navy. He has a criminal history,” the mayor said.

He was stationed in Florida, Illinois, and South Carolina, and worked as an electrician’s mate. He was awarded a defense service medal.

However, his Navy career unraveled with an arrest in 2012.

A 2012 police arrest report from Florida says officers were dispatched to the Mayport Naval Base after being informed an assault and battery had occurred on base and arrested Rojas. The case was dropped/abandoned in February 2013 for reasons that are unclear.

In the Florida case, officers were flagged down by a cab driver and told a green Honda was exiting the base being driven by the suspect. When officers stopped the car, they observed Rojas with an abrasion on his right hand. He yelled, “My life is over,” the report alleges.

Rojas allegedly turned and attempted to walk away, and the officer handcuffed him. He is accused of saying, “I beat the sh*t out of that cab driver and I’ll tell you why, he said, I owed him ($162). I beat the sh*t out of him. He disrespected me!”

The cab driver told police the suspect had attacked him after he refused to pay $44 cab fare. The report said Rojas was active duty Naval personnel.

“The suspect also made threats to kill all police and military police he might see after he (was) released from jail,” alleges the arrest report.

The report says Rojas allegedly told the victim to follow him into the barracks to get money to pay him, and at that time Rojas attacked him.

According to DNAInfo, Rojas “enlisted in the Navy on Sept. 17, 2011, and spent the next four months stationed in Illinois, Navy officials said.” He was stationed in Jacksonville, Florida “from January 2012 through to June 2013 when he reached the rank of Electrician’s Mate Fireman Apprentice and was stationed in the Naval Consolidated Brig in Charleston, South Carolina.” He was moved back to Jacksonville in 2013, the site reports.

He was “other than honorably discharged” in 2014.

According to The New York Times, Rojas grew up near Yankee Stadium and was known in earlier years for hanging out at auto shops and wanting to launch his own clothing line. However, his life deteriorated after his failed military service. When he returned to the Bronx to live with his mother, he descended into paranoia and substance abuse, the Times reported.

The crash into the Times Square crowd was horrific.

A witness told Fox News that she saw “clumps of people down.”

“We saw people laying on the sidewalk…with crowds of people laying around them. You could see clumps of people down the sidewalk with people all around them trying to help them.”


3. Rojas Had an Interest in Scientology & Allegedly Told Police He Thought the End of the World Was Imminent

Rojas had an interest in the controversial practice of Scientology, according to ABC 7.

“Investigators found materials that indicated Rojas has an interest in Scientology and made comments to police that indicated he thought the end of the world was coming,” reported the New York television station.

Harrison Ramos, 30, a friend of Rojas, told The New York Post that Ramos changed after his time in the military and started “drinking to relieve his stress.”

“He finally came home, and it was hard for him to find a job,” Ramos told the newspaper, adding that Rojas would rant about demons, devils, and conspiracy theories. “He was having a lot of bad nightmares. He was talking crazy. He was acting strange.”

Times Square was locked down after the incident, reports CBS. However, authorities were labeling the crash an “accident,” at least initially.

The New York Fire Department referred to the incident on Twitter as a “motor vehicle accident in Times Square.” According to Fox News, “several police sources told Fox News the incident appeared to be an accident. The NYPD press office had not yet confirmed that.”

However, in the news conference, Mayor DeBlasio confirmed that authorities don’t suspect terrorism. “Based on the information we have right now, there’s no indication this is an act of terrorism,” he said.

According to The New York Post, Rojas is accused of punching a police officer.

“When the car finally crashed into a pole, the driver got out of the vehicle and tried to run away, according to witnesses. He punched a police officer before several cops were able to apprehend him,” the Post reported.


4. Elsman Was on a New York Family Vacation & Her Sister Was Also Injured

alyssa elsman, alyssa elsman times square, alyssa elsman michigan, alyssa elsman instagram, alyssa elsman facebook

Alyssa Elsman. (Facebook)

Elsman, the girl who died, was visiting Times Square on a family vacation from Michigan, according to The New York Post. A 13-year-old girl who is the sister of the teen who died is among those injured, reported CBS New York.

Elsman was a car hop at a Sonic Drive-In back in Michigan, and her boyfriend told The New York Post he knew something was wrong when she didn’t text him back.

Elsman posted “a video to Instagram atop the famed red staircase at the Crossroads of the World” shortly before she died, according to the Post. She posted photos from Times Square in 2016, too.

alyssa elsman instagram, alyssa elsman times square

Alyssa Elsman in Times Square in April 2016. (Facebook)

Horrific images emerged from the carnage scene.

A witness told Reuters about seeing “one person was covered with a bloodstained blanket after the collision.” The car crashed into a pole before stopping, reported Reuters. Photos showed it remained on the scene for some time.

Alyssa Elsman. (Instagram)

According to CNN, the incident occurred about a mile from Trump Tower, although the president was not there at the time. CNN reported that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo also headed to the scene.


5. Rojas Is Accused of Driving the Wrong Way Down Seventh Avenue

People attend to an injured pedestrian a moment after a car plunged into them in Times Square. (Jewel Samad/Getty)

Witness accounts said the sedan, allegedly driven by Rojas, was spotted speeding the wrong way down Seventh Avenue toward the busy tourist venue, reports The New York Post.

The Post reported that the suspect allegedly drive down the busy street the wrong way for at least three blocks.

Photos showed the car “upended” on the sidewalk and injured people scattered on the street.

People attend an injured woman after a car plunged into her in Times Square in New York. (Getty)

According to Fox News, “the vehicle was traveling against traffic and trying to enter a pedestrian section of Times Square.” The area was “heavily populated with tourists,” reports Fox.

People and a police officer attend to an injured person moments after a car plunged into them in Times Square in New York on May 18, 2017. (Getty)

According to Reuters, the vehicle was speeding when it collided into the crowd of pedestrians in Times Square. “A speeding vehicle struck pedestrians on a sidewalk in New York City’s Times Square on Thursday, according to an announcement at nearby Reuters news agency headquarters,” reported Reuters. Those injured were being treated at the scene, reported the news agency.

A wrecked car sits in the intersection of 45th and Broadway in Times Square. (Getty)

Videos and photos of the incident’s aftermath circulated on social media.

NBC News reported that there was a massive police response to the scene. “Emergency response in New York City’s Times Square due to incident involving a car reportedly hitting pedestrians,” the network tweeted.

The incident occurred around noon in New York (Eastern Standard Time), a time frame when Times Square is particularly busy.

A woman makes a phone call as others attend to an injured person after a car plunged into them. (Jewel Samad/Getty)

This post will be updated as more information is known.

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72 comments

  1. Thank goodness for automated vehicles!… although, such can programmed to kill!… and evidence has emerged, of that very scenario! IRONIC!… in light of the fact, that automated cars were in fact developed, to overcome the problem of terrorists using cars, as weapons!
    .
    Please!… no emails!

    • My Co-Worker’s step-sister made $13285 the previous week. She gets paid on the laptop and moved in a $557000 condo. All she did was get blessed and apply the guide leaked on this web site. Browse this site….
      This is what I do.————->>>www.dayjobs4.com

    • no funny!
      no guns, knifes, cars….. killing PEOPLE – people kill PEOPLE using whatever they can!
      The issue not in the guy – the issue in society and “culture” – capitalism – NWO – globalization – all king dirty shit on TV and everywhere – propaganda of dirty crap sponsored by the government!

  2. P.S.: Sorry for the missing “be”!… but– for some unknown reason!– when typing within Heavy, my typing is “stuttering”!… and a second or two might pass before a string appears! And on occasion– as evidenced above!– text may not even appear! It’s as if I’m being “keylogged”! Strange!
    .
    Please!… no emails!

    • You’re a moron. Shut the hell up. This car wasn’t an automated vehicle and 99% of the posts you make have nothing to do with the subject at hand. I’m not sure if you’re a troll or just stupid ..

        • A Hispanic Trump follower!? According to media that is impossible as Trump supposedly anti-Hispanic. More likely a Democrat inspired by media hatred of Trump. Illegal immigrant Hispanics terrorize Americans all the time using vehicles. They drive drunk or drugged all the time just like here. When they murder Americans the courts set bail very low to cover it up. Look up Sarah Root case as example.

        • You can not reason with liberals. Good job on bringing up Trump and/or being a Trump supporter on something that has nothing to do with this story. Oh and the guys race. But hey you are the same people that say everyone is equal. #SnowflakeMelting

        • you need to get a brain. What a nasty comment to make when people are hurting. You are just another hater, and should be ashamed of your horrible comments here.

      • Hi Dude!….
        .
        My “thanks” to automated vehicles… oh LUCID KING of the Net!… was an expression of the appreciation of the arrival of technoma, that would mean– could mean!– the delimiting of the ability of someone to effect a DIRECT ATTACK on an individual, by use of a vehicle (i.e., through remote electronic intervention of the attacker’s control!), and the delimiting of our need to mechanically drive our respective cars, generally! Although!… there is an inherent potential risk in allowing “OUTSIDE INFLUENCE” re the operation of an automated car! And so… your ASSUMPTION that my “thanks” pertained to the vehicle that/ which was driven by Richard Rojas, was merely the result of the AUTONOMIC and THELANOMIC NOEMOPATHY revealed by your musings, and in your response about my Clogs! As for your near complete inability to understand my other Comment Logs, I would suggest further English language classes!… barring, and of course, some genetic predisposition, that would indicate some problems outside of your “COGNITIVE CONTROL”! And although I wouldn’t call you a “troll”!… at least, not yet!… I would suggest that your Mental Facility, would suggest someone who is in a nigh “STUPOROUS STATE”! So long!… and take care!
        .
        Please!… no emails!

  3. Just because he had alcohol doesn’t mean his motivation was not hatred. Lots of people do violent things when alcohol reduces inhibitions. I’ll bet he is a Democrat and thinks white people are racist.

  4. In section 5, sentence says, “The Post reported that the suspect allegedly drive down the busy street the wrong way for at least three blocks.” Do reporters not study English anymore?! The verb should be “drove.”

    • Hunter before seeing your comment, but still having read the article, I also had to comment on the absolute crap writing this contributor put out. I understand we want to get the information out there as soon as possible, but seriously it would have taken not even a minute to proofread the article. I would suggest taking a step back, and realizing that you are attaching your name to this subpar article. Do you really want this to be a representation of you, Jessica? I hope you can do better. I seriously do.

      • Nicole, put a comma after ‘Hunter’, and add commas before and after your first ‘seriously’ because it is parenthetical and interrupts the sentence. There should NOT be a comma between ‘back’ and ‘and’. Using ‘seriously’ twice is not only repetitive but unnecessary. Why would people assume that you are not serious? Increase your vocabulary, and eliminate unnecessary words. Also, understand that writing has purpose. This article has no literary purpose, but it communicates its intended message clearly and concisely. Most importantly, after stating your thesis that the writing is terrible, a good writer will ALWAYS support his thesis by providing an example.
        In other words, shut up, especially when you do no better than what you are criticizing. You and Hunter are petty.

        • NANCY EDIT:
          Nicole, put a comma after ‘Hunter’, and add commas before and after your first ‘seriously’ because it is parenthetical and interrupts the sentence. (RUN-ON) There should NOT be a comma between ‘back’ and ‘and’. (AWKWARD, AND ‘AND’.) Using ‘seriously’ twice is not only repetitive but unnecessary. Why would people assume that you are not serious? (INFORMAL USAGE, WRITER CONVEYS ‘SINCERITY’) Increase your vocabulary, and eliminate unnecessary words. (COMMA NOT REQUIRED) Also, understand that writing has purpose. (COMBINE WITH PREVIOUS SENTENCE) This article has no literary purpose, but it communicates its intended message clearly and concisely. (DON’T END YOUR SENTENCES WITH ADVERBS) Most importantly, after stating your thesis that the writing is terrible, a good writer will ALWAYS support his thesis by providing an example. (AWKWARD, “YOUR THESIS” WITH “A GOOD WRITER”) In other words, shut up, especially when you do no better than what you are criticizing. (AWKWARD, FRAGMENTED) You and Hunter are petty. (PROFESSIONAL WRITERS ARE HELD TO A HIGH-STANDARD OF EXCELLENCE)

  5. I wonder if he was discharged from the military. Seems to me this guy is at an age for onset of paranoid schizophrenia, similar to James Holms, Jared Loughner and Adam Lanza.

  6. Looks like he had NO alcohol in his system according to the article…..However, NBC New York is now reporting that “He blew a 0.0 when tested for alcohol at the precinct, but drug tests are pending.” Plus he is not Hispanic according to the article. His Arrest and booking Report from Jacksonville Florida shows his ethnicity “Is not of Hispanic Origin”

  7. “In a news conference, New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio said that the suspect is a U.S. citizen…”

    Well of COURSE he did.

  8. Not of Hispanic origin
    Arrested in Florida in 2012
    Crashes in front of W45th Street like in 45th President spending week ends in Florida
    School last attended U.K. Like in U.K.?

    His face reminds me of a case linked to another Attack….where? Deja vu.
    If not of Hispanic origin with such name, could he be from Middle East origin. Lebanese, Turkish
    This is not accidental. He seems defying and politically motivated. We’ll know soon enough.

    • Didn’t you see? He’s “white”. As a Swede (avoid this country, it’s insane) I recognize when the government is working hard to “fix” the statistics.

      • most FBI cases list hispanics as “white” to hide the massive illegal immigrant problem in our country. Don’t believe me, look it up in the FBI database where you can see the picture of the criminals and their racial designation. Lots of Sanchez white Americans there.. LOL

        • mrstan: Absolutely correct. A good statistical study would be to determine when their falsification of race classification started having a noticeable impact. Government falsification of data for political purposes. I hope somebody in some academic area is able to record accurate information. In the future, an accurate historical reconstruction will be expensive. Anne’s husband.

  9. With no information to come to that conclusion, De Blabbio proclaims no terrorist intent. Despite not being drunk. Blame it on the synthetic weed (can’t impugn real weed). How does he know for certain Richard the Red isn’t a La Raza terrorist? That’s right. He doesn’t.

  10. Trumpig its time for u to OBEY the dawlatul islamya is just near u oh man i just dont know what u are going to do when we put our hands on u becoz this week am gonna have to pss thru white house to see how the mujahideens gonna get in to sloughter u kafirun pigs and ya aint gonna even know that i was there pigs INSHA ALLAH @ashiraf warner# ISIL

  11. An accident? Yeah, right! American citizen? Looks Mexican to me. Tough guy crying like a baby once police got him. Hang him from the nearest tree!

  12. Article keeps saying he’s a vet, but he had an “other than honorable discharge”. He’s been a loser for awhile.

  13. They should throw the book at him, with one involuntary vehicular manslaughter and 23 counts of the same charge.

  14. It’s sad. Does anyone know if this was related to the Wall on the southern border?

    Comey Testitified: Trump Administration DID NOT INTERFERE

  15. The man is a terrorist. The police just don’t want the public to know it. First they said he was an elderly man, but turned out to be in his 20’s, then they said they thought he might have been drunk, but there was no alcohol in his system, now they want to blame it on synthetic drugs, and they’ll be wrong about that too. He’s a terrorist, and he did everything except yell “Allah Akbar.”

    • i am agreement with you. certainly a terrorist.. there have been many attacks like this in the US from the School Shootings to the Movie theater shootings, to many other terrorists shootings in the US. and 99.9% are not Muslims but certainly Terrorists.. Good point

  16. Many other newspapers are reporting he was fleeing the Police as a robbery suspect. His blood alcohol tested as 0. He said he wanted to kill people after he was arrested.

    • Ummmmm, no, just another lightwe5who can handle his drugs. In Canada, we aren’t a bunch of whiny bitches. We get high, and function. Noooooobs

  17. All the victims appear to be White. Perp is Hispanic, likely Puerto Rican. PR terrorists have terrorized New Yorkers in the past. In fact a PR terrorist was released from jail by Obama. Obviously it would be called terrorism if a White drove into crowd of Hispanics. Looks like terrorism against Whites but media bias keeps that from being reported.

  18. Remember that many states classify Hispanics as White race. So of course Rojas will be labeled as White. Despite being Hispanic.

  19. Bin laden Jr calls for attacks using “unconventional” means and bam, mass attack in Times Square. Yes, it is Muslim terrorism, regardless of how desperately the “authorities” try to claim otherwise.

    • i am agreement with you. certainly a terrorist.. there have been many attacks like this on US soli from the School Shootings to the Movie theater shootings, to many other terrorists shootings in the US. but 99.9% are not Muslims but certainly Terrorists.. Most are non-Muslims that the media portrays them as having mental issues. Good point tho

    • i am in agreement with you. certainly a terrorist.. there have been many attacks like this in the US from the School Shootings to the Movie theater shootings, to many other terrorists shootings in the US. and 99.9% are not Muslims but certainly Terrorists.. Good point

  20. White, not of Hispanic origin…WTF, the guy is darker than a Mexican farmer and his last name (Rojas) is a dead giveaway that he is Hispanic!

  21. This “EVENT” has a lot of similarities to the Melbourne car attack just a few months ago: especially the dark skinned young male and a purplish colored car. Oh, and lets not forget the SHOES all over the place. Investigate First before you believe every news story.

  22. “There were obviously initial concerns about terrorism. That’s because the scene of a vehicle ramming into a crowd at high-profile spots has become all too familiar. Terrorists, fueled by ISIS, have used that method in attacks in London, France, and Germany.”…but since his name isn’t Ahmed then he is not a terrorist and the conclusion is 23 injured and 1 dead…hypocrites!

  23. Typical left leaning media wants us to feel sorry for this stupid piece of s**t. Forget putting his dumbass in prison, I am sick of paying for these scumbags. Far too many snowflakes with their heads firmly stuck up their own asses are to blame for the increase in this type of behavior. How some people can blame Trump is ridiculous. Richard Rojas should be shot. His family should be deported. No more coddling these parasites. Also, this site sicks