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Former sailor from Mayport behind wheel in Times Square crash

by: Larry Spruill, Action News Jax Updated:

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Investigators removed the car involved in the crash in Times Square that killed a woman and hurt 22 others.

Investigators say a Navy veteran was behind the wheel.

The CBS affiliate in New York reports a motive could be suicide by cop.


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Police say they tested Richard Rojas for drugs and alcohol. They say he wasn’t drunk and they are waiting for the results to come back on the drug test. The former sailor spent some time in Jacksonville, and was based at Naval Station and Mayport for several years.

“I just thought it was strange, it’s just a normal picture of him smiling, and then talking about how messed up the world is, how he has no regrets,” said Former U.S. Navy sailor John P. Brantley.

The Instagram post on 26-year old Richard Rojas’s page, talks about mass genocide and ends the post by saying, ‘Go ahead and Kill Me, because I won’t sell myself ever.’ Police say Thursday afternoon, Rojas drove into a crowd of people in Times Square in New York City, killing an 18-year old woman and injuring 22 others.

Police arrested him after the crash. Brantley said he worked on the same ship as Rojas, in Jacksonville, “I’m just trying to remember him being like that in the Navy and I don’t remember that,” said Brantley.

Brantley says he lost contact with Rojas until recently when "he hit me up on Facebook, back in March out of the blue.”


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Brantley said the conversation was brief, but shortly after he started to see alarming post from Rojas, “I thought it was odd, but I didn’t think it would turn out to be what happened. When I put two and two together, and figured out it was him, I was just shocked,” said Brantley.

We also learned Rojas was arrested in 2012, when police say he attacked a cab driver over a $44 fare. The report says he yelled, “My life is over.” When officers pulled him over. He’s also accused of making threats to kill all police and military police he might see after he was released from jail.