April 4, 2020

Times Square crash suspect Richard Rojas indicted by grand jury, DA says

Lauren Cook

The man accused of mowing down 21 pedestrians in Times Square last week, killing an 18-year-old tourist, has been indicted by a grand jury, the Manhattan district attorney’s office announced Wednesday.
The charges against Richard Rojas, who did not appear in court for the indictment announcement, include murder, aggravated vehicular homicide, multiple counts of attempted murder and assault, according to the district attorney’s office.
It was a sunny, busy afternoon in Times Square on May 18 when police said Rojas, a 26-year-old former Navyman from the Bronx, deliberately drove his Honda Accord onto the sidewalk on Seventh Avenue and West 42nd Street and sped down three blocks, striking pedestrians as he went.
Alyssa Elsman, of Portage, Michigan, was fatally struck between 42nd and 43rd streets, police said. Twenty others, including Elsman’s 13-year-old sister Ava, were injured in the rampage.
On Sunday, Elsman’s father left a letter to his daughter at the scene of a growing memorial near the crash site.
The one-page letter, written by Thomas Elsman and signed “Dad,” described how much Alyssa Elsman loved New York City and Times Square, and encouraged those “scarred” by the crash to heal and prevail.
The investigation into why Rojas drove his car onto the crowded sidewalk remains ongoing, police said. Investigators were awaiting blood tests that would determine whether Rojas was on drugs at the time.
Court documents show Rojas told police shortly after the crash that he had smoked marijuana laced with PCP. He later told the New York Post he doesn’t remember the crash or his statements to police.
The city medical examiner’s office is handling the blood tests, which are still ongoing, a spokeswoman said.
Rojas, who police said has at least four prior arrests, is due back in court for possible arraignment on July 13, the district attorney’s office said. His defense attorney, Enrico DeMarco, declined to comment.

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