Police said 23 people were hit by the auto, including an 18-year-old tourist from MI who died.
The horrifying incident happened shortly before midday, local time.
Thursday's incident revived memories of July previous year when a man driving a truck killed at least 84 people, 10 of them children, and injured 202 in the French city of Nice.
Times Square averaged about 360,000 daily visitors in April, according to a tally by the Times Square Alliance, making it one of the most visited locations in the world. Police told the New York Times that he appeared to be intoxicated at the time, and they do not believe the incident was terror-related.
Six months ago the city completed a $55 million, almost six-year renovation of Times Square that turned roadways into pedestrian zones.
Four people were in critical condition, officials said.
Law enforcement sources said Rojas tested negative for alcohol but drug test results were still pending.
At least one person was killed and many are injured.
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Fati Smith, a neighbor who has known the Rojas family for years, said she couldn't stop crying since she learned the news.
"Of course, the worst went through my mind and that's why the mayor and I came here as quickly as we could", O'Neill said. He attempted to flee on foot before police officers were able to arrest him.
It isn't clear when Rojas might get a lawyer. "She would always text me back as quick as she could and when I didn't hear from her or her friend, I knew something frightful happened", he told the NYPost.
Friend Harrison Ramos told reporters that Rojas hadn't been the same since he returned from active duty in the Navy.
A recent incident with a speeding vehicle in Antwerp, Belgium which was at first suspected to be a terrorist attack turned out to be a false alarm. "He was going the wrong way up the street and drove onto the sidewalk". It was unclear when Rojas, who was in custody, would get a lawyer or face formal charges in court.
A smashed auto sits on the corner of Broadway and 45th Street in New York's Times Square after ploughing through a crowd of pedestrians at lunchtime on Thursday, May 18, 2017. The auto appeared to catch fire, as smoke was seen coming up from it. Witnesses said the driver appeared to intentionally drive into a group of people, but police are still investigating the motive. All of a sudden the auto caught on fire.
They were reportedly on a family vacation in NY.
The sidewalks in many parts of Times Square and surrounding blocks are lined with metal posts created to prevent cars from getting onto the sidewalks and other public areas.