Mo­torist who ran amok in Times Square says he tried ‘to get help’

Metro USA (New York) - - News -

The Navy vet­eran charged with killing a young woman and in­jur­ing 20 oth­ers by speed­ing down a crowded Times Square side­walk in his car said in pub­lished re­marks Satur­day that he had sought psy­chi­atric care be­fore­hand, to no avail.

“I was try­ing to get help,” Richard Ro­jas, 26, was quoted as telling the New York Post in a tear­ful jail­house in­ter­view two days af­ter the car­nage in the heart of Mid­town Man­hat­tan. “I wanted to fix my life. I wanted to get a job. Get a girl­friend.”

Ac­cord­ing to the Post, Ro­jas said he had re­cently spo­ken to a men­tal health coun­selor at a lo­cal veter­ans cen­ter who promised to call him Mon­day. “Mon­day hasn’t come yet,” he added.

On Thurs­day, Ro­jas climbed be­hind the wheel of his Honda sedan and drove down Sev­enth Av­enue, then ca­reened onto the side­walk, mow­ing down fran­tic pedes­tri­ans in his path for three city blocks be­fore crash­ing. He was sub­dued by on­look­ers and po­lice as he tried to flee on foot.

He has been charged with sec­ond-de­gree mur­der, ve­hic­u­lar homi­cide and mul­ti­ple counts of at­tempted mur­der.

“I wanted to clear my head,” he told the news­pa­per. “The last thing I re­mem­ber is driv­ing in my car. Then, I woke up in the [po­lice] precinct. … I was ter­ri­fied.”

A po­lice source has told Reuters that Ro­jas is be­lieved to have been un­der the in­flu­ence of some in­tox­i­cat­ing sub­stance, and ABC News has cited law en­force­ment sources as say­ing he ap­par­ently was high on syn­thetic mar­i­juana.

“I guess it was laced with some­thing,” Ro­jas told the Post.

Navy and pub­lic court records show Ro­jas has had nu­mer­ous run-ins with the law over the past decade, with at least four prior ar­rests, two for drunken driv­ing, and one just last week for al­legedly threat­en­ing an­other man with a knife out­side his apart­ment in New York City’s Bronx bor­ough.

While serv­ing in the Navy in 2013, he spent two months in a mil­i­tary brig in South Carolina,

though records do not in­di­cate why.

One friend who spoke with Reuters shortly af­ter Thurs­day’s in­ci­dent in Times Square de­scribed Ro­jas as some­one who re­turned from his Navy ser­vice with a drink­ing prob­lem and other per­sonal dif­fi­cul­ties but got no help.


One per­son was killed and at least 22 were in­jured on Thurs­day when a car ca­reened through Times Square and plowed through a crowd of pedes­tri­ans in one of New York City’s most con­gested cor­ri­dors, of­fi­cials said

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