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A man accused of crashing a car into crowds in New York’s Times Square, leaving one teenager dead and many more injured, has been charged with murder.

Richard Rojas, 26, has also been charged with 20 counts of attempted murder and five counts of aggravated vehicular homicide.

Alyssa Elsman, an 18-year-old from Portage, Michigan, was killed when a vehicle hit nearly two dozen people in the tourist area before becoming wedged against steel barriers.

The car is said to have performed a u-turn and driven at speed against the flow of traffic for three blocks.

Ms Elsman’s 13-year-old sister is among the 22 people injured, four of them critically.

Alyssa Elsman was killed by a car in Times Square. Pic: Instagram

Image: Alyssa Elsman was killed in the carnage. Pic: Instagram

Rojas, said to have been discharged from the US Navy following disciplinary problems, is expected to appear in court on Friday.

He has a history of drink-driving charges but is believed to have initially tested negative for alcohol on Thursday.

Police are waiting on the results of drugs tests.

New York Police Department assistant chief William Aubry said the incident started at 11.54am local time on Thursday, when a Honda Accord was seen travelling southbound on 7th Avenue in the direction of 42nd Street.

preview image Video: Car rams into pedestrians in Times Square

Witnesses described seeing people being loaded on to stretchers, shoes scattered around the scene and people in bloodstained blankets amid the carnage.

A picture of the suspect on the TMZ website shows him with a ripped t-shirt after being subdued and surrounded by police officers.

Ken Bradix, a security worker at the Planet Hollywood restaurant, said: “He began screaming, no particular words but just utter screaming.

“He was swinging his arms at the same time.”

Emergency services at the scene in New York

Image: Emergency services at the scene in New York

The incident raised initial terror fears following the use of vehicles in attacks in Nice, France, and Berlin, Germany, last year.

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

Harrison Ramos, a neighbour of Rojas in the Bronx, said he had been “going through a real tough time”.

A week ago Rojas pleaded guilty to a harassment violation after being arrested for pointing a knife at someone he accused of stealing his identity.

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