Driver accused of killing 8 in crash outside Texas shelter identified

George Alvarez, 34, was charged with eight counts of manslaughter and 10 counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – The man accused of killing eight people outside a Texas border shelter has been identified by Brownsville police.

George Alvarez, 34, is in custody after police said he ran a red light, lost control and overturned. Police said Alvarez injured 18 people in the crash, which killed six people at the scene and left 12 seriously injured. Two of the victims later died in hospital.

Police said Alvarez tried to leave the scene but was held up by people who were there. On Monday morning, police said Alvarez was uncooperative, which delayed identification.

Alvarez, who according to police has a “extensive criminal record,” is held on bonds totaling $3.6 million.

All of the victims at this moment appear to be men and many of them are from Venezuela, according to police. Meanwhile, it is still unclear whether the crash was intentional, but police have not yet ruled it out.

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What happened?

Police said an SUV crashed into a crowd, killing eight people waiting for a bus Sunday outside a migrant shelter in the border town of Brownsville, Texas. At least 10 others were injured, authorities said.

With no bench at the unmarked city bus stop, some of the victims were sitting on the sidewalk around 8:30 when the driver ran them over, surveillance video from the Bishop Enrique San Pedro Ozanam Center showed. Brownsville Police Investigator Martin Sandoval, who confirmed the latest death Sunday night, said police did not know if the collision was intentional.

Shelter director Victor Maldonado said the SUV hit the curb, flipped over and continued to move for about 200 feet. Some people walking on the sidewalk about 30 feet from the main group were also affected, Maldonado said.

“This SUV, a Range Rover, just turned on the light that was about 100 feet away and it just went right through the people that were sitting there at the bus stop,” said Maldonado, who reviewed surveillance video from the refuge.

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

Brownsville has seen a surge in Venezuelan migrants in the past two weeks for unclear reasons, authorities said. On Thursday, 4,000 of the approximately 6,000 migrants detained by Border Patrol in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley were Venezuelans.

The driver was taken to the hospital for his injuries when the car overturned, Sandoval said. On Sunday, Sandoval said 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 need to eliminate the other two.

“He is very uncooperative in the hospital, but he will be transported to our city jail as soon as he is released,” Sandoval said. real identity”.

Update from the Brownsville Police Department on the investigation into the crash

Police recovered a blood sample and sent it to a Texas Department of Public Safety laboratory to be tested for intoxicants.

Rising migrant numbers this week prompted Brownsville commissioners to extend an emergency declaration indefinitely during a special meeting on Thursday.

“We don’t want them hanging out outside,” Pedro Cardenas, a city commissioner, said after the crash Sunday. go out and look elsewhere”.

Brownsville has long been an epicenter for migration across the U.S.-Mexico border and has become a key focus 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 handles the release of thousands of migrants from federal custody.

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.

About 2,500 migrants have crossed the river each day into Brownsville in recent days, Cardenas said. He said the Border Patrol is aware of the city’s capacity of 1,000 in their processing area near the crossing point and in a downtown building where city employees and volunteers guide migrants on how to purchase bus tickets. or of the aircraft to their final destinations. The city is considering expanding services to meet needs in the coming days, Cardenas said.

While 80 percent of people released from federal custody leave the same day, the city’s emergency management official said, a bottleneck has built up in recent days.

“Most of the people who come don’t want to stay in Brownsville, but we don’t have enough buses to buy a ticket to leave,” Cardenas said. “Some are waiting for family members.”

The Ozanam shelter can accommodate 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.

Although the shelter offers transport to migrants during the week, it also uses the city’s public transport.

Rochelle Garza, chair of the Texas Civil Rights Project, said in a statement shared Sunday afternoon, “I hope today serves as a wake-up call and that state officials begin investing in a humanitarian response that may have helped those who were affected. since this morning’s tragedy”.

U.S. Representative Vicente González said Sunday that local officials are in communication with the federal government regarding the incident.

“We are all extremely sad and heartbroken to have such a tragedy in our neighborhood,” he said.

Myrna Arteaga, director of the Ozanam Center

Arteaga says migrants arrive at his facility after being processed by immigration and the city. They usually stay at the center for about four days, he says, before leaving for their destination. He said the disaster happened as they were leaving downtown and waiting for a bus.

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Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story indicated that police said it appeared intentional, according to police. Police say investigations are ongoing.

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