Bronx man charged with murder, attempted murder in Times Square incident

Posted: Updated:

Charges have been filed against the Bronx man accused of running down almost two dozen people in Times Square Thursday with his car.

Authorities say he killed one teen and injured 22 other people, prompting mayhem in one of the city's most visited locations for tourists.

Officials tell News 12 they have ruled out terrorism as a motive. While the driver, 26-year-old Bronx native Richard Rojas, tested negative for alcohol, officials say it appears he was on some sort of drugs. Reports claim it could have been synthetic marijuana.

Police charged Rojas with murder, aggravated vehicular homicide and 20 counts of attempted murder.

News 12 has learned that Rojas told police that God made him do it, and he expected police to shoot him.

According to the NYPD, Rojas is a Navy veteran from Walton Avenue with a history of alcohol-related arrests. Rojas was discharged following disciplinary problems.

News 12 is told he was charged with driving while intoxicated in 2008 and 2015.

A friend of Rojas, who was seen defending him outside his Bronx home, says Rojas is a good man who served his country, admitting that the 26-year-old used alcohol to cope with demons and war nightmares.

"Whoever lost their life, I'm sorry, but I don't feel like he deserved that. He was normal before he left, he didn't drink, it happened when he came back," says Harrison Ramos, Rojas' friend.

The teen who was killed was 18-year-old Alyssa Elsman from Michigan, who was visiting New York with her family and 13-year-old sister, who is among those who were injured.

News 12 is still waiting to hear when Rojas will be formally arraigned. It is still unclear if he has a lawyer.

News 12 has recently updated to a brand new version of our iOS and Android apps.  If you don't have auto updates enabled on your devices, head to the App Store or Google Play Store to update to the latest version.  This will ensure you keep getting up-to-date local news, traffic and weather information.

sorry to interrupt
your first 20 are free
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please enjoy 20 complimentary views of articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.
you have reached your 20 view limit
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please login or create an account to continue enjoying News12.
Our sign-up page is undergoing maintenance and is not currently available. However, you will be given direct access to while we complete our upgrade.
When we are back up and running you will be prompted at that time to complete your sign in. Until then, enjoy the local news, weather, traffic and more that's "as local as local news gets."