The passer-by, who gave his name as Landry, said he had seen the man running away from the scene of the incident at New York’s iconic landmark, and decided to chase after him. One person, an 18-year-old woman, was killed and more than 20 injured.
“We just grabbed him until the police came,” he told The Independent. “When he came out of the car, he started running towards 45th St. A guy grabbed him, and then I was there.”
Video not available for syndication
Man shown being arrested in Times Square
Asked if the man had said anything, he said: “He was just screaming. Like, ahhhh.”
Landry said he did not consider himself a hero. “What I can say, is that if you are there and you are able to see somebody, then you have to give a hand and try to help,” he said.
Police said they had detained a former US Navy veteran who appeared intoxicated and who allegedly drove his car the wrong way up a street, hitting pedestrians on the pavement.
After the incident happened, panic swept through the crowds. Times Square is always packed with tourists from across America and around the world.
A victim being treated at the scene (AFP/Getty Images)
"He’s just mowing down people,” Asa Lowe, of Brooklyn, who was standing outside a store when he heard screaming, told the Associated Press. “He didn’t stop. He just kept going.”
Video posted online showed steam or smoke pouring from the car for a few moments after it stopped moving. After the car struck a barricade and stopped, the driver climbed out of his vehicle and then ran.
Police named the driver as 26-year-old Richard Rojas, and said he was taken into custody where he was undergoing tests for alcohol and drugs. Police Commissioner James O’Neill said Mr Rojas had been arrested at least twice previously for driving while intoxicated, once in 2008 and once in 2015.
They said he had driven along the pavement for three streets, passing institutions such as the Hard Rock Cafe and the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company restaurant.
Lourdes Gomez and Marcello Mirzellis, from Miami, had been entering the Skechers shoe store when they heard the crash.
Ms Gomez said she could see one woman lying injured. She appeared naked and her body was covered in cut marks. She seemed to have a broken leg.
“I thought she was unconscious, but then the paramedics came. At the time we did not know what had happened,” she said. “Then a police officer told us that someone had run into people in a car.”
Mr Mirzellis said they felt lucky that they were walking towards the store, as otherwise they may have been hit themselves.
“When we got outside we saw the bumper of the car,” he said.
Police have said they do not believe the incident was terror related, something that many initially suspected.
“This is New York, this is Times Square, that’s what I thought it was,” said one woman.