Auto drives wrong way in Times Square, plows into pedestrians

A smashed car sits on the corner of Broadway and 45th Street in New York's Times Square after driving through a crowd of pedestrians Thursday

A smashed car sits on the corner of Broadway and 45th Street in New York's Times Square after driving through a crowd of pedestrians Thursday

Pic: ReutersNEW YORK: A speeding vehicle crashed into pedestrians on a sidewalk in New York City's busy Times Square on Thursday, causing multiple injuries, witnesses said.

The NYPD says one suspect, a 26-year-old male, Richard Rojas of the Bronx, was taken into custody at the scene.

Authorities arrested Richard Rojas, 26, and police sources told Newsday that Rojas made statements indicating "police might shoot him", creating suspicion among investigators that he may have been attempting what authorities term suicide by cop.

Helpless pedestrians had little time to react as the auto barreled down the sidewalk and through intersections before smashing into a row of steel security barriers installed in recent years to prevent vehicle attacks on the square where massive crowds gather every New Year's Eve.

The victim who died at the scene was identified was Alyssa Elsman, FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said. "He didn't stop. He just kept going", he said. The vehicle barreled through the prime tourist location and came to rest with two of its wheels in the air.

In previous arrests, he told authorities he believed he was being harassed and followed, one of the law enforcement officials said. He turned around and saw the auto hitting people on the sidewalk.

Police say it all began 11:55 a.m. when the vehicle at a high rate of speed wen down the sidewalk at Seventh Avenue from 42nd to 45th street, striking pedestrians along the heavily congested stretch.

"If you didn't know her, you might think she's reserved or shy", school principal Eric Alburtus said.

Rojas is a US citizen and a former member of the US Navy, de Blasio said.

"People just got stunned", said Bruno Carvalho, a student at SUNY Albany.

"I'm the area all the time", she said. Civilians assisted in apprehending the driver, police said.

Bradix says Rojas was screaming and swinging his arms and got away from three people who tried to grab him. He was in custody, and it wasn't clear if he had an attorney yet who could comment on his behalf.

The White House says that President Donald Trump has been "made aware" that a vehicle plowed into a crowd of pedestrians in Times Square and that he will continue to receive updates as the situation unfolds.

That network of barricades, though, is far from a complete defense.

Federal officials have been warning truck owners and truck rental agencies in the U.S.to be "vigilant" about an increasing frequency of terrorist-related "ramming attacks", NBC News reported earlier this month.

Law enforcement officials said they reviewed footage of the deadly rampage from surveillance cameras located throughout Times Square.