He drove his vehicle the wrong way up a Times Square street and plowed into pedestrians on the sidewalk, killing a teenager and injuring 22 other people. Police also said the vehicle was not being pursued by police at the time of the crash.
Police say Elsman's 13-year-old sister was among the people who were struck but survived.
One person has been killed.
The vehicle came to a stop only after slamming into metal stanchions and hurtling into the air, coming to rest on top of the stanchions, flames emerging from its badly damaged front end.
Times Square was the scene of the most serious security alert in America's most populous city since the September 11, 2001 attacks when Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani immigrant, planted a auto bomb at the intersection on May 1, 2010.More news: CBI to examine Kapil Mishra's allegations on graft
Brooklyn resident Asa (AY-suh) Lowe was standing outside the Levi's store enjoying the weather when he heard screaming around midday Thursday.
In previous arrests, he told authorities he believed he was being harassed and followed, one of the law enforcement officials said.
"It sounded like a bomb going off", Willis said, adding "We stood up and all I saw was a crowd of people just running after somebody and diving on top of him".
New York Police Commissioner James O'Neill said during his press conference, held about an hour after the chaotic incident, that Richard was a former member of the armed services.
The auto hit a barricade and stopped.More news: Ceremony honors fallen officers
"People just got stunned", said Bruno Carvalho, a student at SUNY Albany.
Lowe says the driver then got out of his auto and started running until people tackled him. It was unclear when Rojas, who was in custody, would get a lawyer or face formal charges in court. The man has a history of driving while intoxicated, according to the law enforcement official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing. "We went back to the corner and saw and we saw people lying on the sidewalks", the woman told local media.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer tweeted that President Donald Trump was "made aware of the situation". Press secretary Sean Spicer tweeted that Trump was briefed before NY authorities confirmed the death.
A auto traveling through Times Square has driven into a crowd of pedestrians, injuring several people.
Amid fears of a possible terrorism link to the incident, the New York Police Department said it appears to be an "isolated incident" and is being investigated.More news: USA launches NAFTA 90-day renegotiation countdown
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