20 May, 2017
He barreled straight up the sidewalk, knocking down some pedestrians as others ran in terror, before he crashed his vehicle into protective barriers.
Rojas, a native of the Bronx nearby, attempted to flee the scene following the horrifying incident, eventually being restrained by a police officer following a brutal fist fight. "He just kept going". Initial tests reportedly came back negative for alcohol but positive for drugs.
The crash happened at midday on a hot, clear day that brought large crowds of people into the streets to enjoy the good weather.
A picture of the suspect on the TMZ website appears to show him in a rage in the moments after the auto is stopped.
Rojas has been arrested twice in New York - in 2015 and 2008 - for drunken driving, New York Police Commissioner James O'Neill said. He pleaded guilty to an infraction in 2015 and was ordered to complete a drink-driving programme and lost his licence for 90 days.
He was arrested last week on a charge of menacing.
A week ago he was arrested and charged with pointing a knife at a notary, who he accused of stealing his identity. The case is pending.
Two law enforcement officials say Rojas told police he was hearing voices and expected to die.
Investigators were searching his Bronx home and canvassing the crime scene for video.
Rojas enlisted in the Navy in 2011 and was an electrician's mate fireman apprentice.
He 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.
He wasn't immediately available to comment. Police said the woman's 13-year-old sister was among the injured. Police do not suspect a link to terrorism and the driv.
"There is no indication that this was an act of terrorism", Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
Police said Rojas made a quick U-turn onto 42nd Street and drove up the sidewalk for three blocks, passing tourist draws like the Hard Rock Cafe and the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurant and mowing people down before slamming into a pole.
"Once I got close enough to him, that's when he proceeded to attack me", said the cab driver, who asked not to be identified.
Bruno Carvalho, a student at State University of New York Albany, said the vehicle approached quickly and passed him on the sidewalk.
The New York fire department said 13 people were being treated for injuries on the ground after the collision at the tourist site in midtown Manhattan, which attracts more than 300,000 visitors a day. I turn around because someone screamed.
"This place?" Balde said.
Annette Proehl, of Pennsylvania, was in Times Square with children on a field trip when she heard the screeching tires of the vehicle and people screaming.
After the crash, the driver climbed out of the vehicle and began to run away, witnesses and police said.
"People were beside them, . we were trying to tell (police) they were hurt".
Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, said Donald Trump was briefed on the incident.
In a statement posted to Twitter, New York's Sergeants Benevolent Association said: "Regarding today's auto crash in Times Square- we don't know yet if this was just an accident, but continue to stay alert & carry your firearm".
The sidewalks around Times Square are secured with more than 200 steel bollards meant to prevent accidental or criminal vehicle intrusions, said Rob Reiter, chief security consultant for CalPipe Security Bollards. Police shut down 43rd and 44th streets, which intersect Times Square, between 7th and 8th avenues.