A mother of five was killed when a man plowed his car into her family outside the 7-11 on Central Highway in Garnerville.
The perpetrator’s name is reported by WABC News to be Jason Mendez, a 35-year-old Washingtonville, NY resident with roots in Rockland County and Texas.
Seven others were injured and hospitalized, including a 35-year-old male and three juveniles who were taken to Westchester Medical Center, Haverstraw PD told the media at a 7 p.m. press conference. Their injuries are considered serious but not life threatening.
Police said Mendez will face second degree murder and seven counts of attempted murder. The confirmed identity of the perpetrator and possible further charges will be revealed at a 10 p.m. arraignment.
A background check on Mendez shows he had faced accusations of violence in the past. In 2012 he was arrested in Texas for assaulting a public officer and in 2014 he was charged with domestic violence, charges that were dropped when his wife refused to testify.
A close relative of the victims told the Rockland County Times that the perpetrator was a complete stranger to his family.
A store employee told WABC-7 Eyewitness News that the dispute started when the father of the family asked the alleged assailant to put out his cigarette. Witnesses said the assailant became enraged and plowed his car not once, but twice into the family, driving the vehicle into the window of the 7-11.
WABC reported that the vehicle was a white Infiniti with Texas plates. The identities of the victims and alleged perpetrator had not been revealed as of 7 p.m. Wednesday. People from the north Rockland community and surrounding region expressed revulsion at the cold-blooded act.
UPDATE – Haverstraw police released the following statement at 8:30 p.m. “On today’s date at approximately 1:50 p.m., a male subject intentionally drove his vehicle into a family that was standing in front of the 7-11 store located on N. Central Highway in Garnerville. The male suspect had a verbal altercation with a member of the family moments earlier. The suspect then proceeded to enter his vehicle, which was parked in the 7-11 parking lot, and drove the vehicle forward striking eight family members. The suspect then reversed the vehicle and drove forward again, striking the family members for a second time.
“The eight family members consisted of a 35 year old male as well as a 32 year old female and 6 juvenile children. The eight members of the family were all transported to a local hospital. Tragically, the 32 year old female victim succumbed to her injuries at the hospital. The 35 year old male victim was transported along with three of the juvenile children to a Westchester Medical Facility for serious but non life threatening injuries. The remaining children were being treated at the local hospital for their injuries.
“The suspect, age 35, was confronted at the scene by responding police officers. The suspect was brandishing a knife and failed to comply with the responding officers verbal commands to drop the knife. The suspect was subsequently tased, subdued, and taken into custody without further incident. The police department’s investigation has led to the charge of murder in the second degree (1 count) and attempted murder in the second degree (7 counts) being filed against the suspect.
“The investigation is still ongoing and it is anticipated that several additional charges will be filed. The names of all involved parties are being withheld at this time due to the ongoing investigation. The Town of Haverstraw Police Department would like to thank the responding police agencies that assisted in this tragic incident and investigation including the Stony Point Police Department, Rockland County Sheriff’s Office and the New York State Police.
“Additionally, the Town of Haverstraw Police Department would like to thank the Haverstraw Ambulance Corps, Rockland Mobile Care, and the various other EMS agencies and personnel who responded to assist in the care for the victims of this tragic incident.”