SUV driver hits crowd at Texas bus stop near border, killing 7
Brownsville EMS providers transported several injured people to hospitals
By Valerie Gonzalez and Michael Gonzalez
BROWNSVILLE, Texas — An SUV slammed into a crowd Sunday, killing at least seven people and injuring at least 10 who were waiting at a bus stop outside a migrant shelter in the border city of Brownsville, Texas, police said.
Shelter director Victor Maldonado of the Bishop Enrique San Pedro Ozanam Center said he reviewed the shelter's surveillance video on Sunday morning after receiving a call about the crash.
"What we see in the video is that this SUV, a Range Rover, just ran the light that was about a 100 feet away and just went through the people who were sitting there in the bus stop," Maldonado said.
The city bus stop is across the street from the shelter and is not marked. There was no bench, and people waiting there were sitting along the curb, Maldonado said. He said most of the victims were Venezuelan men.
He said the SUV flipped after running up on the curb and continued moving for about 200 feet (about 60 meters). Some people walking on the sidewalk about 30 feet from the main group were also hit, Maldonado said. Witnesses detained the driver as he tried to run away and held him until police arrived, he said.
Brownsville police investigator Martin Sandoval said the crash happened about 8:30 a.m. and police did not know whether the driver intentionally hit people.
"It can be three factors," Sandoval said. "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 was taken to the hospital for injuries sustained when the car rolled over, Sandoval said. There were no passengers in the car and police didn't immediately know the drivers' name or age, Sandoval said on Sunday afternoon.
"He's 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."
Police also retrieved a blood sample and sent it to a Texas Department of Public Safety lab to test for intoxicants.
Brownsville has long been an epicenter for migration across the U.S.-Mexico border, and it has become a key location of interest for next week's end to pandemic-era border restrictions known as Title 42. The Ozanam shelter is the only overnight shelter in the city and manages the release of thousands of migrants from federal custody.
Maldonado said the center had not received any threats before the crash, but they did afterward.
"I've had a couple of people come by the gate and tell the security guard that the reason this happened was because of us," Maldonado said.
The shelter can hold 250, but many who arrive leave the same day. In the last several weeks, an uptick in border crossings prompted the city to declare an emergency as local, state and federal resources coordinated enforcement and humanitarian response.
"In the last two months, we've been getting 250 to 380 a day," Maldonado said.
While the shelter offers migrants transportation during the week, they also use the city's public transportation.
U.S. Rep. Vicente González said Sunday that local officials are in communication with the federal government about the crash.
"We are all extremely sad and heart broken to have such a tragedy in our neighborhood," he said.
Valerie Gonzalez reported from McAllen, Texas. Travis Loller contributed to this report from Nashville, Tenn.