U-Haul Driver Suspected in Deadly Brooklyn Rampage Must Undergo Mental Evaluation

After his arrest, the 62-year-old suspect told police he believed it was "judgement day" and was aiming the truck at "the people that disturbed him the most," according to prosecutors

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The driver of a U-Haul truck that barreled through two Brooklyn neighborhoods, killing a food delivery worker and injuring eight other people, will have to undergo a psychiatric evaluation while in custody, a judge ordered Wednesday.

Weng Sor, who was charged with murder and attempted murder in connection with Monday’s deadly rampage, made his first court appearance in Downtown Brooklyn, keeping his head down and his mask on. The judge ordered him to remain in custody without bail.

Defense attorneys raised concerns over the 62-year-old's mental health, requesting he be put on suicide watch.

Police said Sor, 62, referred to an "invisible object" that came at him, prompting him to go careening through streets before a police cruiser pinned the truck against a building near the entrance to a tunnel leading from Brooklyn to Manhattan.

After his arrest, Sor told police he believed it was "judgement day" and was aiming the truck at "the people that disturbed him the most," Assistant District Attorney David Ingle said at the court hearing. He said Sor told the officers, “I wanted to end by taking out enemies. Shoot me, I will not give in.”

Sor, believed to be the lone actor in the puzzling rampage, is expected to be back in court on March 16. He was charged with one count of second-degree murder and seven counts of attempted murder in the attack, which unfolded over a harrowing 48 minutes over a large swath of the bustling Bay Ridge and Sunset Park neighborhoods.

One person was killed and eight people were injured as the U-Haul truck veered onto sidewalks and plowed into bicyclists, moped riders and at least one pedestrian, hitting people at various points along a circuitous route. The truck also rammed a police car, and the officer inside was among the injured.

Sor was walked out of a police station in handcuffs Tuesday night, shouting words about "war." His family said he'd stopped taking his medication, Chief of Detectives James Essig told reporters Tuesday, which may have caused him to see the "invisible object" during the mental health episode.

"He states when he’s driving his van he sees an 'invisible object' come towards the car. At that point, he says, ‘I’ve had enough’ and he goes on his rampage," Essig said. "There was no object."

Sor, who lived in Las Vegas with his mother, came to New York earlier in February after spending time in Florida and was pulled over twice in the U-Haul in the days prior to the attack, police said. He may have been living out of the truck.

The U-Haul struck three people on mopeds, three people on bicycles, one person on an e-bike and one person who was on foot as the truck moved through a busy section of Brooklyn, just north of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge along New York Harbor, police said. The victims ranged in age from 30 to 66.

A senior law enforcement official told News 4 that Sor said in a statement that he "only ran over bad people — not good people."

A 44-year-old man riding a moped died later on Monday from a head injury after he was hit by the truck roughly a half hour after it struck the first victim. Mayor Eric Adams said the man, who was identified by family as Yije Ye, was a single father “raising those children on his own.”

The victim's cousin told NBC New York that Ye had moved to the U.S. from China nearly two decades ago. He lived in Bay Ridge, according to neighbors, and was delivering food when he was struck. He later died at the hospital.

Yije Ye leaves behind three teenage children. The family said that the "tragic accident shattered their American dream."

The scope and length of the destruction led to questions about the NYPD's response and whether the pursuit — which at one point involved a police car speeding after the U-Haul up onto the sidewalk as a man dove to safety — put more people in harm's way.

Mohammed Salah Rakchi, 36, a delivery worker who emigrated from Algeria three years ago, was hit while running errands after dropping his 7-year-old daughter off at school. The first victim hit in the rampage, Rakchi suffered broken bones, brain bleeding and other injuries. He remained in a medically induced coma Tuesday, clinging to life.

"I feel like I am in a dream….the worst kind of dream," said his wife, Nadjet Tchenar, adding that there had been no improvement in her husband's condition since Monday. "My heart is broken."

Exclusive interview with the wife of U-Haul rampage victim, Mohammed Salah Rachi. Sarah Wallace reports.

A lawyer for Rakchi's family, Derek Sells, questioned whether being chased by police "was a triggering event for this driver and what might have led him to do the things that he did." The lawfirm said it would be conducting its own investigation. separate from the law enforcement case.

NYPD policy requires officers to stop chasing vehicles when the risks to police and the public “outweigh the danger to the community.”

Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said Tuesday that the department is reviewing its response. The NYPD later posted body camera video images to social media showing officers urgently clearing a street full of elementary school children near where the U-Haul was wreaking havoc.

Sor rented the U-Haul truck in West Palm Beach, Florida on Feb. 1, paying in advance for a 30-day rental. He remained there until Feb. 4, when he began driving north to Brooklyn, where his son and ex-wife live, Essig said.

On Feb. 5, Sor was pulled over in South Carolina and cited for reckless driving and marijuana possession. He arrived in Brooklyn the next day, surprising his son when he showed up at his door in the middle of the night.

Weng Sor’s 30-year-old son, Stephen Sor, told The Associated Press that his father had a history of mental illness. He said they didn't speak often and described their relationship as "rocky" and that "I try to just distance, as long as he leaves us alone." Records show the father was convicted and served time for multiple acts of violence, including stabbing his own brother.

“Very frequently he’ll choose to skip out on his medications and do something like this,” Stephen Sor said in an interview outside his Brooklyn home. “This isn’t the first time he’s been arrested. It’s not the first time he’s gone to jail.”

The suspect continued to suffer from existing mental health concerns as he tried to visit with his estranged family. An official said police were called back in 2019 after Sor was allegedly screaming and acting erratically in the street. Sources told NBC New York that Sor's family confirmed he has emotional troubles, but he had never been a religious extremist or radical.

U-Haul rampage suspect is charged with murder. Pei-Sze Cheng reports.

On Feb. 8, Essig said, police stopped Sor for speeding in the U-Haul on a Brooklyn highway where trucks and other commercial vehicles are prohibited. He was then spotted in New Jersey on Sunday, a day before the mayhem in Brooklyn, Essig said.

The chase with police ended Monday when a police cruiser cut off the winding route and blocked the truck against a building near the entrance to a tunnel leading from Brooklyn to Manhattan, more than 3 miles from where the chase began.

Sor's criminal history includes arrests for driving while intoxicated and evading a police officer in 2002 and multiple instances of battery.

In 2015, Weng Sor stabbed his brother in Las Vegas and served about 17 months in a Nevada prison, according to court and prison records. In 2017, he allegedly assaulted a woman by hitting her in the head with a marker, then telling an officer that he had "heard voices" in his head telling him to fight. In 2020, he stabbed someone in the arm and chest with a knife and was sentenced to 364 days in county jail.

Before pleading guilty in that case, Sor was evaluated for several months at state psychiatric facilities before being found competent to face charges, court records show. The records don’t list any diagnosis, but note that Sor was placed on medications.

In an earlier Nevada case, he was ordered to undergo counseling and perform community service after pleading guilty to misdemeanor battery in 2005. The judge noted at the time that Sor was moving to New York and ordered him to submit to a mental health evaluation once he arrived.

The destruction shattered the late-morning routine and immediately evoked memories of other vehicle assaults on bikers and pedestrians in the crowded city, including a terrorist’s deadly 2017 attack that killed eight people on a Manhattan bike path and a disturbed motorist’s rampage through Times Square the same year that killed one and injured 20.

Police released bodycam footage of police officers racing to move young students out of the street as the out of control U-Haul driver tore through the neighborhood — possibly heading for right where the children were. NBC New York's Marc Santia reports.

Timeline of Events

Police tracked the start of Sor's rampage back to Bay Ridge, around 5th Avenue and Bay Ridge Parkway, before continuing north into Sunset Park. There were initial reports of the truck swerving onto sidewalks with police chasing close behind.

Security footage captured just a fraction of the danger the driver posed to anyone on or near the road Monday morning.

The U-Haul truck was spotted on video driving up 4th Avenue near 55th Street and swerving without warning into the bike lane, where a cyclist was struck and plowed over without any warning of what was about to happen. A second cyclist in front appeared to see what was unfolding and move out of the way as the truck showed no signs of slowing down. Video showed the driver tried to run over other bicyclists, but was unable to, then sped away on 4th Avenue.

In another video, a person on the sidewalk jumps out of the way, narrowly missing the full impact of the truck as it speeds down the path with a police cruiser in close pursuit.

Here's a timeline of Monday's events, according to NYPD, before the suspect was finally stopped and arrested:

  1. 10:17 a.m.: Driver of the U-Haul truck hits a 36-year-old man near 4th Avenue and 55th Street in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. The victim injured his leg, was said to be in stable condition at hospital.
  2. 10:29 a.m.: A 34-year-old man was struck near 5th Avenue and Senator Street in Bay Ridge, suffering injuries to his chest. He was taken to the hospital, and is expected to be OK.
  3. 10:31 a.m.: A 30-year-old man was hit near Bay Ridge Parkway and 7th Avenue. Police said he suffered leg injuries and is expected to recover.
  4. 10:36 a.m.: The truck struck a 51-year-old man near Bay Ridge Parkway and 12th Avenue, causing him to suffer head injuries. He was taken to the hospital, where police said he was recovering.
  5. 10:48 a.m.: A 44-year-old man suffered critical injuries to his head after being struck near Bay Ridge Parkway and 5th Avenue. He later died at the hospital.
  6. 10:50 a.m.: Another man was struck near Bay Ridge Parkway and 7th Avenue. The 38-year-old was taken to the hospital with ankle injuries.
  7. 11:05 a.m.: A 33-year-old police officer and a 32-year-old man were struck near 72nd Street and 3rd Avenue in Bay Ridge. The officer suffered leg injuries while the other man hurt his head and chest, but both were expected to recover.
  8. 11:05 a.m.: Just a block away, at 73rd Street and 3rd Avenue, the oldest victim, a 66-year-old man, was struck. He is expected to be OK after injuring his neck and knee.

By 11:30 a.m., the NYPD had the truck bearing Arizona license plates and its driver surrounded on a corner between Red Hook and Carroll Gardens. The driver was taken into custody without incident.

The truck, stopped against a police cruiser on the sidewalk, was searched and cleared of any possible explosives. That stop was part of seven different scenes across Brooklyn that was sorted through for evidence, NYPD Commissioner Sewell said Monday afternoon.

Copyright NBC New York/Associated Press
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