Times Square rampage: ‘We tackled him’

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Witnesses describe the moment they witnessed a vehicle plow through a crowd in New York City.

People rush to assist those injured after a car plunged into them in Times Square in New York. Picture: AFP

WITNESSES have told of scenes of horror and heroism in New York’s famed Times Square, after a man sped along a footpath and mowed down dozens of pedestrians.

Former naval officer Richard Rojas, 26, allegedly killed 18-year-old tourist Alyssa Elsman in the rampage on Thursday, and injured at least 23 others.

Bystanders have recounted seeing the man’s Honda Acord make a sudden U-turn and mount the footpath at Seventh Avenue and 42nd Street, before speeding three blocks north against traffic.

“The car passed right in front of me,” Bruno Carvalho told News Corp Australia.

“I was getting to Broadway, so from the corner I saw the car turn really fast. I would say two or three feet from us. We took some seconds to realise it wasn’t a bomb … and we were wondering if we could help people or not.”

Police secure an are near a car after it plunged into pedestrians in Times Square in New York. Picture: AFP

Police secure an are near a car after it plunged into pedestrians in Times Square in New York. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

People assist those injured when a speeding car struck pedestrians in New York's Times Square. Picture: AFP

People assist those injured when a speeding car struck pedestrians in New York’s Times Square. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

This extraordinary image shows Richard Rojas fleeing from his vehicle after crashing it into a pole. Picture: Charles Guerin/Bestimage USA

This extraordinary image shows Richard Rojas fleeing from his vehicle after crashing it into a pole. Picture: Charles Guerin/Bestimage USASource:Supplied

Rojas crashed the car into a pole and it burst into flames. He tried to flee the scene but was crash tackled by Alpha Balde, a 57-year-old ticket agent for CitySightseeing, and Ken Bradix, a bouncer from Planet Hollywood.

“He got out of the car and tried to run to Planet Hollywood so the man comes meet him right on the corner in the middle of the street and he hit him one time,” Mr Balde told News Corp Australia.

Ken Bradix, a longtime Planet Hollywood bouncer, and sightseeing ticket seller Alpha Balde wrestled the fleeing suspect to the ground before police took over. Picture: AP

Ken Bradix, a longtime Planet Hollywood bouncer, and sightseeing ticket seller Alpha Balde wrestled the fleeing suspect to the ground before police took over. Picture: APSource:AP

Mr Bradix’s employer Planet Hollywood said he “selflessly and heroically took action, helping to stop the fleeing suspect.”

Richard Rojas attempted to flee the scene but was tackled to the ground by two brave bystanders. Picture: AP

Richard Rojas attempted to flee the scene but was tackled to the ground by two brave bystanders. Picture: APSource:AP

Alyssa Elsman, 18, was killed during the shocking car rampage. Picture: Facebook

Alyssa Elsman, 18, was killed during the shocking car rampage. Picture: FacebookSource:Supplied

Val Ashton, visiting New York City with her daughter Alex from Atlanta in Georgia, saw the maroon Honda on fire after it struck a pole.

“We were standing back behind the stairs and we saw all these police officers with their sirens trying to get through. It was just mayhem because it’s just so busy here all the time,” she said.

“They stopped traffic and the car was on fire. We were standing pretty close at that point videoing it. The fire was coming out of the front, at the top of the hood and the bottom of it.

“And the firemen were trying to push us away, they thought it might have been a bomb and the car could explode.”

People rush to help a man mowed down by the car in Times Square. Picture: Charles Guerin/Bestimage USA

People rush to help a man mowed down by the car in Times Square. Picture: Charles Guerin/Bestimage USASource:Supplied

A car is seen on its side in Times Square after hitting pedestrians.

A car is seen on its side in Times Square after hitting pedestrians.Source:Supplied

There were scenes of horror and heroism in New Yorks Times Square in the wake of the car rampage on Thursday. Picture: AFP

There were scenes of horror and heroism in New York’s Times Square in the wake of the car rampage on Thursday. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

Mrs Ashton said she feared the car could have been carrying a bomb.

“I was thinking, how could a car even get up on the sidewalk like that with so many people,” she said.

Many of those watching the troubling situation unfold in one of the world’s busiest tourist errors also feared it was an act of terrorism.

CCTV shows the horrifying moment a car ploughs into large crowds of people at Times Square.

Angela Parson, a tourist from London, said she saw the driver being arrested and feared he was a terrorist.

“We got to the corner and saw the car come down the wrong side of the road and it was on fire. And then we saw the terrorist. I did see him very clearly, if he was a terrorist.

“He looked like a terrorist to me, we just had one in London.”

First responders attend to an injured woman after a car plunged into pedestrians in Times Square in New York. Picture: AFP

First responders attend to an injured woman after a car plunged into pedestrians in Times Square in New York. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

People attend to an injured woman after a car plunged into her in Times Square. Picture: AFP

People attend to an injured woman after a car plunged into her in Times Square. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

Annie Donahey, 24, said she heard “thuds” as the car barrelled into the crowd at lunch time.

“It looked like he was trying to hit them. He wasn’t trying to go back on the street,” she told New York Daily News.

“There was a guy on the windshield, along for the ride, but he kept on going. A girl who was next to me a moment ago, she was on the floor on her back.”

Of the “thuds” she heard, she said: “It was the sounds of bodies being hit, then came the screams. People were jumping out of the way, but he just kept going.

“Then there was silence for what seemed to be a really long time, then the screaming returned. There were bodies covered in blood.”

First responders assist one of the victims of the car rampage. Picture: AP

First responders assist one of the victims of the car rampage. Picture: APSource:AP

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said “there was no indication that this was an act of terrorism”.

New York Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said at least 22 people were injured, with four people taken to area hospitals in a critical condition with open fractures and “multiple traumas”.

“None of those four are likely to perish. We’re very hopeful that they will survive,” he said. Three other injuries are considered “very serious” but not critical.

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio arrives to brief the media in Times Square following a violent car rampage. Picture: AFP

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio arrives to brief the media in Times Square following a violent car rampage. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

NBC News reported that the suspect, who was tested for possible drug or alcohol intoxication, admitted to cops he was smoking marijuana prior to the crash.

The New York Post reports Rojas was arrested on May 11 in the New York borough of The Bronx for threatening someone who came to his house to get an annuity notarised.

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