The Connecticut driver who allegedly struck a pedestrian and a cyclist, attempted to carjack a taxi, and ultimately punched a traffic cop on the Upper East Side on Christmas Eve told police officers after the fact that he was on a suicide mission to the Empire State Building.
"I honestly was on my way to the Empire State Building because I wanted to jump off," Cameron Coelho, 27, told a police officer at New York Presbyterian Hospital less than two hours after his driving rampage. "I'm sorry, I'm very sorry. I shouldn't have done that. Now I understand that what I did was wrong."
Coelho's statements were included in court documents provided by the Manhattan DA’s office.
Coelho also told officers that he has been diagnosed with both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, but had not been taking his prescribed medication for "over eight months." In the days leading up to the fateful drive, Coelho said, he had been fasting and drinking only water.
"I don't drink [alcohol]. This is just what I wanted to do. I needed to tell my story," he said.
He also said that he took his aunt's car "without anyone's permission" and drove to NYC from Connecticut.
Later that evening, en route to Bellevue Hospital, Coelho asked an officer if the arrest was going to impact his chances of becoming a police officer in Connecticut, wondering, "Will it affect me getting in Connecticut PD?"
Police said that Coelho went on his vehicular rampage between noon and 1:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Coelho drove southbound, from East 91st Street to East 60th Street between First and Third Avenues, and was ultimately arrested on the Queensboro Bridge exit ramp between 62nd and 63rd Streets.
Coelho allegedly sped through red lights and against traffic and mounted a sidewalk, according to the criminal complaint. He struck a taxi at 72nd Street and 2nd Avenue while driving against a red light, and fled the scene. He proceeded to strike another vehicle on East 71st and 2nd Avenue, as well as a pedestrian and a cyclist. Without stopping, he rear-ended another vehicle at 69th Street, then abandoned his car on the Queensboro bridge, and attempted to carjack another taxi. When a traffic enforcement cop tried to intervene, he allegedly punched him in the stomach, causing swelling, bruising, and "substantial pain."
The NYPD apprehended Coelho around 1:00 p.m. According to court documents, he told officers on the scene that he wanted people to "hear my message."
"I wanted to go out in a glorious way," he added. "I've had everything my whole life and I wanted people to see that I've done nothing with it." And, chillingly, "I know who I hit in the cars. I can tell you how many people I hit."
Coelho was ultimately charged with five counts of leaving the scene of an incident, a felony offense, as well as injuring a transit employee, reckless endangerment, and attempted grand larceny of a vehicle. He pled not-guilty to all counts in Manhattan Supreme Court on Monday, and the judge set a $15,000 cash or bond bail.
Stephanie Kaplan, Coelho's attorney, told the News that she is seeking treatment options for her client.
Coelho did not post bail following the arraignment. His next court date is set for February 4th.
If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide: do not leave the person alone; remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt; and call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.