By Daniel Trotta and Jonathan Allen
NEW YORK (Reuters) – A former U.S. Navy sailor slammed his car into pedestrians in New York City’s packed Times Square on Thursday, killing an 18-year-old woman and wounding 22 people, and authorities said there was no indication it was an act of terrorism.
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.
Police who took the driver into custody identified him as Richard Rojas, 26, of the New York City borough of the Bronx. They said he had been arrested twice for drunken driving in 2008 and 2015, and once earlier this month for menacing.
There was “no indication” it was an act of terrorism, Mayor Bill de Blasio told a news conference at the scene.
Initial reports of the incident brought to mind vehicle attacks on pedestrians like those seen in recent months in Britain, France, Germany, Israel and Sweden.
“People were being hit and rolling off the car,” said Josh Duboff, who works at the nearby Thomson Reuters headquarters. He said he leaped out of the way to avoid being struck.
A woman’s body lay covered with a bloodstained blanket. A police officer kept vigil nearby, sadly shaking his head. Shoes were scattered on the sidewalk.
Hundreds of thousands of people, many of them tourists from around the world, pass daily through Times Square, the heart of the Broadway theater district.
The bustling streets are heavily patrolled by police, some on horseback. Many, but not all, sidewalks are lined with barricades and planters for fear of vehicle attacks.
The incident took place close to noon ET on a bright, sunny day. Security camera footage showed the car slam into pedestrians who moments earlier were ambling along, some carrying shopping bags and others pushing baby strollers.
A bouncer from the Planet Hollywood restaurant and a ticket agent were among onlookers…