A man driving a Range Rover sped through a red light in Brownsville, Texas, on Sunday and into a crowd of people waiting at a bus stop outside a migrant shelter, killing at least eight people and wounding several more, according to local officials. The eighth victim died Sunday night, and "several more remain critical," Brownsville Mayor Trey Mendez said in a statement. Brownsville police say they don't know the identity of the driver or whether he meant to harm his victims.
"It could be intoxication; it could be an accident; or it could be intentional," Brownsville police Lt. Martin Sandoval said. "In order for us to find out exactly what happened, we have to eliminate the other two." The driver, whose SUV flipped after ramming the crowd, is "being very uncooperative at the hospital, but he will be transported to our city jail as soon as he gets released," he added. "Then we'll fingerprint him and (take a) mug shot, and then we can find his true identity." A sample of his blood was sent to a lab to check for intoxicants.
The incident occurred Sunday morning at a bus stop across the street from the Bishop Enrique San Pedro Ozanam Center, which provides emergency shelter and food to individuals and families, especially migrants passing through Brownsville after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
Shelter director Victor Maldonado said most of the victims were Venezuelan men. According to surveillance video, the driver tried to run away, but witnesses detained him until police arrived. Luis Herrera, who suffered a broken arm when the SUV grazed him, told The Washington Post the driver had first driven by the bus stop, insulting and taunting those waiting for "invading" his property.
Brownsville, a longtime migration corridor, is preparing for an increase in border crossings after the Biden administration ends the national COVID-19 public health emergency this week and its Title 42 border expulsion policy. The majority of migrants coming through Brownsville in the past week are from Venezuela, The Associated Press reports.
Maldonado said the Ozanam Center, established by the Catholic Diocese of Brownsville on the edge of town, had not received any threats before Sunday's crash. But they did afterward, he told AP. "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."