BROWNSVILLE (AP) — Seven people were killed and up to six were injured Sunday after being hit by a vehicle as they waited at a city bus stop outside a migrant shelter in the border town of Brownsville, Texas, police said.
Brownsville Police Detective Martin Sandoval said the crash happened around 8:30 a.m.
Shelter director Victor Maldonado of the Bishop Enrique San Pedro Ozanam Center said he reviewed surveillance video from the shelter Sunday morning after receiving a phone call about the incident.
The city bus stop is across the street from the shelter and is unmarked. There were no benches and people waiting sat along the sidewalk, Maldonado said. He said most of the victims were Venezuelan men.
“What we see in the video is this SUV, a Range Rover, just turned on the light that was about 100 feet away and it went right through the people who were sitting there at the bus stop,” Maldonado said.
He said the SUV flipped over after running onto the sidewalk and kept moving for about 200 feet (about 60 meters). Some people who were walking on the sidewalk about 30 feet from the main group were also shot, Maldonado said.
The Ozanam Shelter is the only overnight shelter in the City of Brownsville and handles the release of thousands of migrants from federal custody. Brownsville has long been an epicenter for migration across the U.S.-Mexico border and has become a key location for pandemic-era border restrictions known as Title 42 to end next week.
Sandoval told KRGV-TV that authorities are investigating whether the crash was intentional or an accident. They are also testing the driver, who was detained at the scene by witnesses, for intoxication.
Maldonado said the center hadn’t received any threats before the incident, but they did after it.
“I’ve had a couple of people come through the gate and tell the security guard that the reason this happened was because of us,” Maldonado said.
The shelter can hold 250 people, but many who arrive leave the same day. In recent weeks, an increase in border crossings has prompted the city to declare an emergency as local, state and federal resources coordinate enforcement and humanitarian response.
“In the past two months, we’ve received 250 to 380 a day,” Maldonado said.
While the shelter offers the migrants transport during the week, they are also free to use the city’s public transport.
“Some of them were on their way to the bus station because they were on their way to their destination,” said the director.