May 7, 2023 - 11:30 am
Updated May 7, 2023 - 12:23 pm
BROWNSVILLE, Texas — Seven people were killed and up to six were injured Sunday after they were struck by a vehicle while waiting at a city bus stop outside of a migrant shelter in the border city of Brownsville, Texas, police said.
Brownsville police investigator Martin Sandoval said the crash happened about 8:30 a.m.
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.
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.
“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.
He said the SUV flipped after running up on the curb and continued moving for about 200 feet (about 60 meters). Some people who were walking on the sidewalk about 30 feet away from the main group were also hit, Maldonado said.
The Ozanam shelter is the only overnight shelter in the city of Brownsville and manages the release of thousands of migrants from federal custody. Brownsville has long been an epicenter for migration across the U.S.-Mexico border, and it has become a key location for next week’s ending of the pandemic-era border restrictions known as Title 42.
Sandoval told KRGV-TV that authorities are investigating whether the crash was intentional or an accident. They are also testing the driver, who was held at the scene by witnesses, for intoxication.
Maldonado said the center had not received any threats before the crash, but they did afterwards.
“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 the 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 are also free to use the city’s public transportation.
“Some of them were on the way to the bus station, because they were on their way to their destination,” the director said.
Gonzalez reported from McAllen, Texas. Travis Loller contributed to this report from Nashville, Tenn.