The driver of the Honda, Richard Rojas, 26, a Navy veteran from the Bronx, had a history of arrests for drunken driving, said officials, moving quickly to assuage fears of terrorism.
“Based on information we have at this moment, there is no indication that this was an act of terrorism,” Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters at a news conference near the scene of the rampage.
Mr. Rojas appeared to be under the influence of drugs when he mowed down the crowds, according to several law enforcement officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a continuing investigation. Under questioning by investigators, he rambled and talked about various things, making some statements suggesting that he might have wanted to provoke the police into killing him, the officials said.
It was around noon when Mr. Rojas swerved onto a curb near 42nd Street and then accelerated north along the sidewalk on Seventh Avenue, which runs one way, southbound — crashing into people for block after block.
Alyssa Elsman, 18, of Portage, Mich., was killed in the havoc, officials said. Her 13-year-old sister was injured.
A security guard at a building at 44th Street and Seventh Avenue said he had watched through the lobby windows as the Honda sped past and drove over a woman.
“She just hit the floor and he went over her,” said the guard, who did not give his name.
Other witnesses described their horror at seeing terrified bystanders scramble for safety.
“It was going at a fast rate of speed and to me it looked like it was trying to hit as many people as possible,” said Annie Donahey, 24, who had just left work. “People were trying to jump out of the way.”
The car raced on, crossing 45th Street before smashing into barriers in front of the Marriott Marquis Hotel. The driver tried to escape, but he was quickly surrounded.
“He started trying to run away,” said Asa Lowe, 42, who had been walking on Seventh Avenue. “Traffic cops grabbed him. Regular citizens grabbed him. We became the city we need to be today.”
The wrecked Honda stayed where it was through the day, as if in a disaster-movie still, amid the constant looping of Times Square’s electronic billboards and advertisements. The car’s right-side wheels hung in the air as smoke rose from under its crumpled front hood. The trunk was popped open, revealing piles of detritus. The rear bumper was torn off and lying in the middle of the street a few blocks away.
On a nearby pedestrian plaza, there was one small cluster of people who were not emergency medical workers: a couple with…