"A woman in front on the sidewalk was hit and tossed before then vehicle reached 44th st, continued plowing people down at full speed up to 45th street, where it was stopped after crashing into more people and the light post pictured", posted Instagram user Ed G Val, who "saw the auto speeding north on the west sidewalk of southbound 7th Ave." from across the street.
Elsman's father is on his way to New York City from Portage, Michigan, according to PEOPLE.
Rojas' motivation was unclear but a troubled history has emerged that saw him discharged from the US Navy over disciplinary problems in 2014, following three years of service as an electrician's mate fireman apprentice.
"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. Initial tests reportedly came back negative for alcohol but positive for drugs.
Police said the rampage unfolded rapidly as Rojas allegedly drove his vehicle at high speed for three blocks down Seventh Avenue, in the heart of Times Square, made a U-turn at 42nd Street and vaulted the curb, hitting the first victim.
Rojas had been arrested at least four times before for offenses including drunk driving and threatening someone with a knife, according to police officials and public records.
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Law enforcement officials say he told police he was hearing voices.
An 18-year-old woman was killed and at least 22 people were injured when a speeding vehicle plowed into pedestrians, city officials said.
The passer-by, who gave his name as Landry, said he had seen the man running away from the scene of the incident and chose to chase after him. He pleaded guilty to harassment, a violation, and was not sentenced to any prison time.
Rojas was arrested on charges of driving while intoxicated in 2008 and 2015, police Commissioner James O'Neill said, losing his license for 90 days.
Hundreds of thousands of people, many of them tourists from around the world, pass daily through Times Square, the heart of the Broadway theatre district. In 2012 he served aboard the USS Carney, a destroyer.
Rojas spent his final months in the Navy at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida, before being discharged in 2014 as the result of a special court martial, a Navy official said.
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Thursday's mayhem began at noon on a hot, clear day that brought large crowds of people into the streets to enjoy the good weather.
"I don't think there was actually time for screaming".
"We're all kind of a mess", Eric Alburtus, principal of Portage Central High School, from which Elsman graduated previous year, told the Detroit Free Press. "And now that she's gone, I don't know how I'm going to fill that void", Mr West said.
Elsman also has a 16-year-old brother, the relative says, but he is believed not to have been at the scene. "She was bright. She was amusing".
Before the crash, her 13-year-old sister posted a video on Instagram showing a view of bustling Times Square.
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