Man charged with murder after pregnant woman, family struck at 7-Eleven

HAVERSTRAW, Rockland County -- A man has been charged with murder after police say he intentionally drove his vehicle into a family of eight standing outside a 7-Eleven in Rockland County Wednesday.

A 32-year-old pregnant woman was killed. A 35-year-old man and three children, ages 11 months, 2 and 3, were seriously injured. Two of the three seriously injured children are in the pediatric ICU.

The older three children, ages 5, 7 and 10, were also hospitalized, but none of the injuries are considered life-threatening.

A baby carriage remained on the scene as investigators surveyed the scene around 2 p.m. along Central Highway in Haverstraw.

A worker inside the 7-Eleven was very shaken up but told Eyewitness News that a man smoking outside the store became enraged when the father had asked him not to smoke around the kids.

An argument ensued, which the worker says came to an end when the smoker got into his car and plowed into the 7-Eleven, striking all eight members of the family.

He then reversed the vehicle and drove forward again, striking the family members a second time, according to police.

The mother died at the hospital. According to one of the children, their mother threw herself in front of the stroller to save their lives.

"She was lying on the ground," said witness Allison Rodriguez. "Carriage was there. Nobody was around her. We just kinda knew she wasn't gonna make it."

Police say that when they arrived on the scene, the suspect was still inside his car.

"He didn't say anything initially to the police officers," said Haverstraw Police Captain Martin Lund. "He refused to drop the knife. Then he was tased at the scene and taken down."

The suspect, 35-year-old Jason Mendez of Washingtonville, NY is charged with second-degree murder, along with seven counts of attempted murder.

He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Wednesday night and is due back in court next week.

The vehicle had Texas plates, but police say the driver has roots in Rockland County. Police anticipate that additional charges will be filed.
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