Times Square driver says he tried to get mental help

Posted at 11:25 PM, May 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-21 23:25:50-04

NEW YORK (AP/WXMI) — A man accused of mowing down pedestrians in Times Square, killing a teenage Michigan tourist and injuring 22 others, said he had been trying to get psychiatric help.

In a jailhouse interview on Saturday, Richard Rojas told the New York Post that he recently spoke to a mental health counselor at a local veteran’s center but they never got back to him.

“I was trying to get help,” Rojas told the newspaper from Rikers Island. “I wanted to fix my life. I wanted to get a job. Get a girlfriend.”

Rojas, who lived with his mother in the Bronx, drove his car Thursday through Times Square, then made a U-turn and steered his car onto a sidewalk, plowing through helpless tourists for three blocks before crashing into protective barriers, police said.

Alyssa Elsman

Alyssa Elsman, of Portage, was one of nearly two dozen people hit by a man driving on the sidewalk in Times Square. Elsman’s 13-year-old sister was among the 22 other people injured.

Elsman was a recent graduate of Portage Central University and was visiting New York

After Rojas was detained, he said he wanted to “kill them all” and that police should have shot him to stop him, a prosecutor said at his court appearance on Friday. They said Rojas also admitted to smoking marijuana laced with PCP sometime before the crash. Officials are awaiting toxicology reports.

“I just want to apologize to all the victims’ families … I want to apologize to my mom,” Rojas said tearfully during the interview.

“The last thing I remember is driving in my car,” Rojas recalled. “Then, I woke up in the precinct … I was terrified.”