Earlier this week, terror struck New York city after a car drove onto the sidewalk and ran over pedestrians. Immediately after it happened, people thought it might’ve been a tragic accident.
However, newly released video footage appears to tell a different story. It was not an accident. It was intentional. He waited patiently for the right moment to attack.
Despite speculation that the attack may have been an accident, surveillance cameras show Richard Rojas, the person responsible for the carnage, calmly sitting in his car at a traffic light moments before the attack. When the light turns green, he pulls out into the middle of the intersection, does a u-turn, and accelerates onto the crowded sidewalk, proving this was no freak catastrophe. He did not lose control of his car. He was calculating the entire time. The full video of the attack can be seen below (Warning, graphic content):
If it was an accident, he would’ve stopped immediately after hitting the first person. Instead, he continued on the sidewalk for three blocks, mowing down people as he went. People in his path tried desperately to get out of the way, but some were too slow. He treated his car like a life-sized bowling ball and sent their helpless bodies flying into the air like bowling pins. One eyewitness, Bruno Carvalho, claimed things happened too quickly for anyone to react. “People just got stunned,” he told reporters, adding, “I don’t think there was actually time for screaming.”
The attack only stopped when he smashed into a metal barrier and totaled the car. If he hadn’t hit that, he would’ve likely done even more harm, further suggesting that this was a deliberate attack. Undeterred, he leaped from the wrecked vehicle and charged at onlookers, screaming incoherently. “He began screaming, no particular words but just utter screaming. He was swinging his arms at the same time,” recalled Ken Bradix, a security supervisor at a nearby restaurant. When he saw what Rojas had done, he tackled him to the ground and called for police.
After being arrested, he told officers that he was “hearing voices” and intended to commit suicide by cop. Much to his disappointment, New York’s finest managed to capture him alive. Officers believe drugs may have been involved. He allegedly told officers that he smoked cannabis laced with PCP shortly before the attack. If true, that may explain his behavior. PCP has a tendency to cause people to act out in extremely violent ways.
Rojas faces one count of murder, 20 counts of attempted murder, and 5 counts of aggravated vehicular homicide. He’s expected to be arraigned sometime this week. In total, he hit over 20 people and killed one. The person killed was identified as Alyssa Elsman, an 18-year-old tourist from Michigan who had recently graduated from high school. She was visiting the city with her 13-year-old sister, who was injured, but not killed, in the attack. Her principal, Eric Alburtus, remembered her as “bright” and “funny” individual. “If you didn’t know her, you might think she’s reserved or shy,” he told reporters, adding, “but if you could talk to her for a minute, you’d realize she was engaging. She was bright. She was funny.”
This incident is eerily similar to recent terrorist attacks in Europe involving cars. Although his motivations are not entirely clear, officials were quick to dismiss this as a reason. Shortly after Rojas was arrested, the city’s Mayor, Bill de Blasio (D), told reporters that there was “no indication that this was an act of terrorism.” Instead, they believe that he was simply a troubled individual with a long history of problems.
For example, back in 2014, the U.S. Navy decided to discharge Rojas, who was stationed at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida, due to “disciplinary problems.” He first joined the Navy in 2011 as an electrician’s mate fireman apprentice. Then in 2012, he started working aboard the U.S.S. Carney, a destroyer. After that, he spent several months in Charleston, South Carolina before ultimately ending up in Florida.
Unfortunately, that was only the beginning of his problems. A year after being discharged, he was arrested and charged with a DUI, which caused his license to be suspended for 90 days. And just last week, he was arrested for attacking a notary and threatening them with a knife. When police arrested him, he claimed that the notary was trying to steal his identity.
Even though we still don’t have all the details, one thing is for certain: Rojas was a deeply disturbed individual. Not only did he kill someone and injure countless others, he filled the city with a newfound terror not felt since 9/11. Because of him, vast numbers of New York residents are terrified to go out into the public. They don’t want to be the victim of the next attack. Prosecutors should do everything possible to make sure he spends the rest of his life behind bars.