A car traveling through Times Square in New York City around noon on Thursday drove into a crowd of pedestrians, injuring 22 people and killing at least one.
The incident, which is not believed to be terrorism-related, occurred near 45th Street and Broadway, one of Manhattan’s busiest intersections. NYPD commissioner James O’Neil said it had arrested the driver, Richard Rojas, a 26-year-old from the Bronx who has two prior arrests for driving while intoxicated.
“The perpetrator is in custody. He’s a United States citizen and a former member of the armed forces with the United States Navy,” New Mayor Bill de Blasio said during a press conference. “He has a criminal history.”
The New York Police Department closed off the area and senior law enforcement officials said a preliminary investigation indicated that it was not a terror attack, however a bomb squad responded as a precaution.
De Blasio called it a “tough day for New York City” but added that he has tremendous faith in first responders who properly handled the situation.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer tweeted that President Trump was briefed before New York authorities confirmed the death. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was on his way to the scene, according to the AP.
The incident occurred near the headquarters of several major companies, including Reuters. The area is heavily populated regardless of the weather, but Thursday was bright and sunny with many people spending their lunch breaks in Times Square during one of the nicest days New York City has seen in 2017.
The vehicle was a maroon-colored Honda sedan. Witnesses said the motorist had driven against traffic and onto the sidewalk, striking pedestrians.
“Everybody was just running, everyone was concerned for their lives,” a witness told local CBS television.