Eight dead after SUV hits crowd at bus stop near Texas migrant shelter

At least eight people have died and another 10 were injured after an SUV slammed into a crowd waiting for a bus outside a migrant shelter in the border city of Brownsville, Texas. 

With no bench at the unmarked city bus stop, some of the victims were sitting on the curb at around 8:30 am on Sunday when the driver hit them, surveillance video from the Bishop Enrique San Pedro Ozanam Center showed. Brownsville police investigator Martin Sandoval said police did not know whether the collision was intentional.

Shelter director Victor Maldonado said the SUV ran up the curb, flipped and continued moving for about 60 metres. Maldonado said that some people walking on the sidewalk about 9 metres from the main group were also hit. Witnesses detained the driver as he tried to run away and held him until police arrived, he said.

“This SUV, a Range Rover, just ran the light that was about 100 feet [30 meters] away and just went through the people who were sitting there in the bus stop,” Maldonado said. 

Victims struck by the vehicle were waiting for the bus to return to downtown Brownsville after spending the night at the overnight shelter, said Sister Norma Pimentel, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley.

Most of the victims were Venezuelan men, Maldonado said. Brownsville has seen a surge of Venezuelan migrants over the last two weeks for unclear reasons, authorities said. On Thursday, 4,000 of about 6,000 migrants in Border Patrol custody in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley were Venezuelan.

The driver was taken to the hospital for injuries sustained when the car rolled over. There were no passengers in the vehicle, and police didn’t immediately know the driver’s name or age, Sandoval said. 

Sandoval added there are three possible explanations for the collision: “It could be intoxication; it could be an accident; or it could be intentional. In order for us to find out exactly what happened, we have to eliminate the other two.

“[The driver] is being very uncooperative at the hospital, but he will be transported to our city jail as soon as he gets released,” Sandoval said. “Then we’ll fingerprint him and [take a] mug shot, and then we can find his true identity.”

Brownsville has long been an epicentre for migration across the US-Mexico border. The Ozanam shelter is the only overnight shelter in the city and manages the release of thousands of migrants from federal custody.

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