One person is dead and 22 others were injured near New York City’s Times Square after a car plowed into pedestrians on a sidewalk just before lunch hour Thursday.
“So far what we know is 23 individuals were in this incident, and that includes tragically one young woman who has passed away,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said at an afternoon press conference.
Witnesses said the motorist mounted the sidewalk in a burgundy Honda sedan and sped along more than three city blocks, knocking people over before the car hit a pole and came to rest at 45th Street and Broadway in Midtown Manhattan.
WATCH (WARNING: VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED): Security footage captures car crashing into pedestrians on sidewalk in Time Square
At an afternoon press conference, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill identified the driver as Richard Rojas, a 26-year-old Bronx resident.
“Preliminary investigation reveals that Rojas has a few arrests and two of them are for DWI (driving while impaired),” the commissioner said.
The mayor said Rojas was a former member of the U.S. Armed Forces.
A friend told Reuters that Rojas returned from Navy service with a drinking problem and posted “crazy stuff” on social media.
READ MORE: Times Square suspect’s checkered past included 2 months in navy prison
Police said Rojas made a quick U-turn onto 42nd Street and then drove up the sidewalk for three blocks, passing tourist draws like the Hard Rock Cafe and the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company restaurant and mowing people down before slamming into a pole.
De Blasio said there was no indication the incident was an act of terrorism.
Photos on social media show a damaged car propped up against a light standard as emergency personnel gathered and dozens of people watched.
A witness said “it was so much chaos going on and you saw people were running.”
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“We heard a big crash, we saw people running away. We went back to the corner and saw and we saw people lying on the sidewalks,” the woman told local media.
Patrick Graves, a tourist visiting New York, said the driver of the vehicle was “easily speeding.”
“You know what the traffic is like here, it’s quite congested. To hit people and to be catapulted up on there you would have to be easily been exceeding the speed limit,” Graves said.
WATCH: New York firefighters rush to aid victims of deadly Times Square crash
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo described the scene as “nothing short of horrific.”
“As facts continue to emerge, my heart goes out to the victims of this terrible tragedy, as well as their families,” the governor said on social media.
He was combative with officers arresting him, authorities said. Rojas, was taken into custody and was undergoing tests for alcohol and drugs.
–with files from the Associated Press and Reuters