Just after the incident in 2017 that left an 18-year-old dead and 22 others injured, authorities said, “[He] proceeded to drive at a high rate of speed along the sidewalk from 42nd to 45th Street, striking a large number of pedestrians along the way.”
When Rojas was in custody, he told police, “I wanted to kill them.”
The rampage lasted 3.5 blocks, which is a shocking 1,102.5 feet on the busy New York City streets. At the time, Rojas was high on K2, synthetic marijuana and blood results showed that he tested positive for PCP and other substances.
Instead of facing jail time, the judge said that Rojas will be held on an open “involuntary mental commitment.”
The father of the teen who was killed, Thomas Elsman, said, “I think this it’s bulls—t.”
Elsman added, “You killed my daughter and my other daughter has scars for the rest of her life, let alone she doesn’t have her sister with her so that’s it, that’s it.”
District Attorney Alfred Peterson wasn’t happy about the decision. He said, “The defendant made a decision that day. He went to the ‘Crossroads of the World,’ a high profile place where everyone knows there’s lots and lots of people.”
Rojas’ attorneys argued that he was too mentally disturbed to comprehend what he was doing and a psychiatrist testified that he was diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Defense attorney Enrico DeMarco claimed that Rojas had “lost his mind.” Jurors were shown a video of Rojas after he hit pedestrians and crashed his car and he was banging his head on the ground and yelling, “What happened?” “Oh my God, what happened?”
Rojas’ initial statements contradicts the statement he made to police just after the incident. If he didn’t know what happened, how could he say he wanted to kill them?
Rojas’ attorneys also claimed that he had become paranoid since he was discharged from the United States military for assaulting a cab driver and even said he was hearing voices at the time of the incident.