The Associated Press has reported that a man accused of steering his car onto one of the busiest sidewalks in the U.S. and mowing down pedestrians for three blocks before a row of steel security barriers finally stopped him told police he was “hearing voices”. Police said 23 people were struck, including an 18-year-old tourist from Michigan who died. The driver, Richard Rojas, a 26-year-old Bronx man who had been discharged from the U.S. Navy following disciplinary problems, told police he was hearing voices and expected to die. After the wreck he emerged from his vehicle running, yelling and jumping before being subdued by police and bystanders in a chaotic scene.
“He began screaming, no particular words but just utter screaming. He was swinging his arms at the same time, said Ken Bradix, a security supervisor at a nearby Planet Hollywood restaurant who tackled Rojas.
The carnage happened in a part of the city that has long been considered a possible terrorist target because of its large crowds, a concern that became elevated after the Sept. 11 attacks and compounded by recent attacks in England, France and Germany in which vehicles plowed through crowds of pedestrians.
Rojas’ motivation was unclear, but Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio said there was “no indication that this was an act of terrorism.”
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