Richard Rojas May Have Been Under Influence Of Synthetic Marijuana When He Mowed Down Civilians [Updated]

Richard Rojas has been identified as the man who rammed a vehicle into a crowd of civilians in New York’s Time Square on Thursday afternoon, killing one young woman and injuring several others.

Twenty-six-year-old Rojas is a U.S. army veteran who lives in the Bronx. He was a naval officer from 2011 to 2015. Richard reportedly made it over three blocks before crashing into a street fixture and coming to a stop. According to Daily Mail, he could have been under the influence of synthetic marijuana, and though he has two DWIs on his record, he was given a breathalyzer at the police station which confirmed that no alcohol had been in his system. He’s currently being tested for a range of legal and illegal drugs.

It is believed Rojas wanted to pull a “suicide by cop” because police say he told them, “You were supposed to shoot me!” Rojas also expressed his desire to end lives by proclaiming, “I wanted to kill them!”

Rojas’ friends have been questioned by authorities and they said that when they saw him earlier this week, he appeared cheerful. He’d been in a good mood because he recently had his Honda returned to him after a period of being unable to pay for the car.

One friend, Harrison Ramos, said that Richard has been different ever since ending his time serving in the military.

“He finally came home, and it was hard for him to find a job. He was having a lot of bad nightmares. He was talking crazy. He was acting strange,” Ramos told police.

On Wednesday night, Rojas had been out drinking with pals. On Thursday morning, he, at some point, decided to drive his car into a crowd of innocent people in bustling midtown Manhattan.

Sources say that despite acting happy earlier this week, Richard Rojas was arrested last week for holding a man at knifepoint. Before police could intervene, he’d asked the man, “do you feel safe?” This behavior certainly supports one of the friend’s accounts that Rojas had been acting unusual.

On Twitter, users have been busy speculating on Richard Rojas and the Times Square massacre from the second news about it broke. Some from the alt-right seem to be convinced the multiple-victim car crash was terror-related, despite numerous reports claiming there were no signs of a terror plot.

[Updated May 18, 2017, 10:35 p.m. EST]

According to local news source WABC, Richard Rojas’ has tested positive for drugs. Though it is thought the former Naval officer was high on K2, a brand of synthetic marijuana, when he drove into a crowd of people in Times Square on Thursday, this still needs to be confirmed by blood tests.

What Is Synthetic Marijuana?

Synthetic marijuana and regular marijuana are two completely different substances. Synthetic marijuana, sometimes referred to as K2 or Spice, is man-made and sold in tobacco shops under the guise of incense. “Not for human consumption” can be seen on every package of the stuff, not that the people who use it to get high pay that warning any attention.

According to Leafly, makers of Spice are aware of the existing legal pressure to outlaw the substance, and as such are able to stay on top of new regulations banning certain chemicals found in synthetic marijuana. This makes it no problem for manufacturers to keep their recipes legal.

This man, who looks to be in agony, is being treated by EMS personnel for suspected K2 overdose in New York City in August 2015. [Image by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]

K2 is made in such a way in that it’s able to effect the same receptors in the brain that real marijuana effects.

“THC, the primary psychoactive chemical in herbal cannabis, latches to CB1 receptors in the brain to produce a euphoric high, and synthetic cannabinoids also bind here, but with a much higher affinity.”

This is, however, where the similarities between the two end. Unlike natural cannabis, the synthetic version can cause dangerous effects to the body, such as tachycardia, hypertension, loss of vision, headaches, throwing up, angina, hysteria, delirium, and kidney damage.

With all the risks associated with K2, why do people smoke it? Apart from not knowing about the dangers, people opt to use it for two main reasons: because unlike real marijuana, Spice doesn’t show up in urine tests, and because the substance is not illegal to possess in states where recreational use of weed is prohibited. These reasons are used by marijuana legalization advocates to support their stance on legalizing marijuana’s recreational use.

[Featured Image by Drew Angerer/Getty Images]

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