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Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.

District Attorney, New York County

For Immediate Release
July 13, 2017

DA VANCE: RICHARD ROJAS INDICTED FOR MURDERING 18-YEAR-OLD PEDESTRIAN, INJURING 18 OTHERS IN TIMES SQUARE

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the indictment of RICHARD ROJAS, 26, for intentionally driving his car into a crowd of pedestrians in Times Square, fatally striking an 18-year-old woman and injuring 18 others. The defendant is charged in New York State Supreme Court with Murder in the Second Degree, Attempted Murder in the Second Degree, and Assault in the First and Second Degrees.[1]  

“The site of this rampage is one of the busiest in New York City: more than 300,000 pedestrians visit Times Square every day,” said District Attorney Vance. “As is alleged in the indictment, this defendant put the lives of each person who had the misfortune to cross his path in danger when he intentionally drove his car onto the sidewalk, striking and killing a young woman visiting our city and injuring 18 others. My heart goes out to the victims, many of whom are in various states of recovery, and their families.”

According to documents filed in court and statements made on the record in court, at approximately 11:55 a.m. on May 18, 2017, ROJAS drove his Honda Accord south along 7th Avenue in Times Square. Then, at a high rate of speed, he made a U-turn, driving his car onto the sidewalk from 42nd Street to 45th Street, hitting many pedestrians along the way. Among those struck was Alyssa Elsman, an 18-year-old young woman from Michigan. The crash killed her and severely injured her 13-year-old sister. Additionally, ROJAS struck and injured 17 other pedestrians, and only stopped when he crashed into a metal pillar. 

Following the crash, the majority of the victims had to be hospitalized – five in critical condition – and one remains hospitalized. 

Assistant District Attorneys Joan Illuzzi, Special Counsel to the District Attorney, Harrison Schweiloch, Deputy Chief of Trial Bureau 60, Michael McIntosh, and Melanee Smith are handling the prosecution of the case, under the supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney John Irwin, Chief of the Trial Division. 

District Attorney Vance also thanked Detective James Meehan of the Midtown South Detective Squad. 

[1] The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. All factual recitations are derived from documents filed in court and statements made on the record in court.

Defendant Information:

RICHARD ROJAS, D.O.B. 7/31/1990
Bronx, NY

Charged:

  • Murder in the Second Degree, a class A felony, 2 counts
  • Attempted Murder in the Second Degree, a class B felony, 18 counts
  • Assault in the First Degree, a class B felony, 20 counts
  • Assault in the Second Degree, a class D felony, 18 counts