Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Global Media | By Meredith Barber

Arraignment Friday for Richard Rojas, accused of running down Times Square pedestrians


"So out of an abundance of caution, major sites in this city will get additional police coverage from our anti-terror units", De Blasio said.

Rojas is due to appear in court today charged with second-degree murder, aggravated vehicular homicide and several counts of attempted murder. He was arrested for drunk driving in 2008 and 2015, and detained earlier this month on charges of menacing, police said.

"People were being hit and rolling off the auto", said Josh Duboff, who works at the nearby Thomson Reuters headquarters. It is unclear at this time what condition her sister is in, though four of the injured are in critical condition, according to officials.

Richard Rojas, 26, was arrested after his maroon sedan jumped the curb and hit 23 individuals in Times Square, killing Alyssa Elsman, an 18-year-old tourist from MI. It was stopped after crashing into a pole on 45th Street and Broadway, where it lied with two of its wheels in the air.

Alyssa Elsman, from Portage, Michigan, died and 23 people were struck by the vehicle before it was stopped by a security barrier.

"We heard a bang and looked out to see the auto crashed just outside our building", she said. "People were beside them, . we were trying to tell (police) they were hurt".

A tourist from Argentina told CNN affiliate WABC that he was shocked to see the vehicle that "was like bowling, hitting people".

One injured woman nearby had a large open wound on her leg.

"I don't think there was actually time for screaming".

Her 13-year-old sister was also struck by the auto, but survived, police said.

When Long went outside and looked in the direction the auto had gone, she saw at least six people lying on the ground, including a woman lying face-down with blood pouring from her head.

"It was more of a surreal thing", she said. She saw it slam into a steel divider and catch fire, she said.

"Managers conducted a headcount and thankfully none of my colleagues was injured", she said.

Police placed Times Square on lockdown. "We initially thought they were filming something".

The Department of Homeland Security also stated that it is in close contact with law enforcement officials in New York City about the incident.

She graduated from Portage Central High School.

Elsman was a kind, compassionate student known around the school for selling muffins she baked in a cooking class, Alburtus said.

President Donald Trump has been made aware of the situation and will continue to receive updates, according to White House press secretary Sean Spicer.

Initial reports of the incident brought to mind vehicle attacks on pedestrians like those seen in recent months in Britain, France, Germany, Israel and Sweden.

Times Square averaged about 360,000 daily visitors in April, according to a tally by the Times Square Alliance, making it one of the most visited locations in the world.

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