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2 teen girls from NJ injured in Times Square attack

Times Square Crash
Richard Rojas, of the Bronx, accused of mowing down a crowd of Times Square pedestrians, killing a teenage tourist, appears for his arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court on Friday. (Jefferson Siegel/The Daily News via AP, Pool)

DUNELLEN — Two Dunellen High School girls were among the two dozen people injured Thursday when a crazed driver deliberately plowed into crowds of people in Times Square.

The girls, both seniors at the Middlesex County high school, were hospitalized at Bellevue in Manhattan, where they remained Friday, according to schools Superintendent Gene Mosley.

The attack killed 18-year-old tourist Alyssa Elsman and injured at least 20 others.

The driver, Richard Rojas, 26, has been charged with murder and attempted murder. Police say he appeared intoxicated after he was captured at the scene and said he told police that he had smoked marijuana laced with PCP.

He also told police that he wanted to “kill them all” and that police should have shot him, authorities said.

News of the two Dunellen girls’ injuries quickly swirled in the small community of 7,200 people. MyCentralJersey.com first reported about the girls’ injuries Friday afternoon.

Mosley said the school’s principal broke the news to faculty before classes on Friday and held an assembly to inform the student body and let them know that grief counselors would be available.

Times Square Crash
Pedestrians gaze at the scene after a deadly car crash in Times Square. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Mosely declined to identify the girls in order to protect their privacy and did not describe the extent of their injuries.

“These girls — members of the Dunellen High School Class of 2017 — are in the thoughts and prayers of everyone in the Dunellen educational community as well as the community at large,” Mosely said in a statement to New Jersey 101.5. “We wish them Godspeed for a complete recovery.”

Rojas, who lived with his mother in the Bronx, drove his car Thursday from his home to Times Square, where barreled into pedestrians on the sidewalk before his car crashed against protective barriers.

The terrorizing attack was captured by multiple video and photo cameras.

WARNING: The video below is extremely graphic

Rojas’ criminal record includes pleading guilty last week to harassment in the Bronx after he was accused of pulling a knife on a notary in his home.

In 2012, he was arrested and accused of beating a cab driver, according to an arrest report obtained by The Associated Press. After his arrest, Rojas told the officer he was going to any police he might see after his release from jail, the Jacksonville sheriff’s office report stated.

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Rojas enlisted in the Navy in 2011 and was an electrician’s mate fireman apprentice.

Navy records show that in 2013 Rojas spent two months at a naval prison in Charleston, South Carolina. He was discharged in 2014 as the result of a special court martial, a Navy official said.

Meanwhile, the distraught father of the 18-year-old woman who died in the attack was taken to a hospital after he went to a police station and announced he wanted to kill the suspect, the New York Post reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email sergio.bichao@townsquaremedia.com.

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