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Man who ran over pedestrians was 'hearing voices'

19 May 2017

The deadly rampage on Thursday started after the driver allegedly made a U-turn, then steered the vehicle into the packed sidewalk where it rammed dozens of pedestrians for a three block stretch.

Relatives, friends and community members in Portage, Michigan, mourned the loss of Elsman, the 18-year-old killed in the crash.

Rojas' motivation was unclear but a troubled history has emerged that saw him discharged from the US Navy over disciplinary problems in 2014, following three years of service as an electrician's mate fireman apprentice.

There is no indication the incident, which unfolded just before noon, was an act of terrorism, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and other officials said. He was submitted for drugs and alcohol tests after his arrest yesterday.

Police said the red Honda sedan mounted the sidewalk and traveled for three blocks at high speeds before crashing into a lamp post on 45th Street and Broadway.

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Police said the woman's 13-year-old sister was among the injured.

He has been arrested on charges of driving while intoxicated twice, losing his licence for 90 days in 2015, and was arrested for pointing a knife at a notary he accused of stealing his identity last week. After his arrest, he told police he was "hearing voices" and expected to die, two law enforcement officials said. Faisal Shahzad, a naturalised American and Taliban-trained militant, later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life imprisonment.

The suspect, who suffered from "psychological issues", told police he expected officers to shoot him, according to the source.

One neighbour told Reuters Mr Rojas had come back from serving in the navy with a drinking problem.

The passer-by, who gave his name as Landry, said he had seen the man running away from the scene of the incident and made a decision to chase after him. The police had taped off many of blocks around Times Square. In 2012 he served aboard the U.S.S. Navy records show that in 2013 he spent two months at a naval brig in Charleston, South Carolina, but not indicate why.

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"There were a lot of people out, enjoying the good day, and then I heard screaming and the auto running over bodies", she said. She's been identified as Alyssa Elsman.

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.

She graduated from Portage Central High School.

Her 13-year-old sister was also struck by the vehicle, but survived, police said. "Every interaction I had with her was positive", school principal Eric Alburtus told the Grand Rapids station. "The more you got to know her, the more you would realize she was amusing, and thoughtful, and compassionate to other people".

Just minutes before her death, Elsman posted a photo Times Square on her Instagram story.

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