A driver ran into pedestrians who were standing at a bus stop outside a migrant shelter in South Texas on Sunday, killing at least eight people, in an incident that police are investigating as possibly intentional, authorities said. Another 10 were injured, according to Brownsville police.
Authorities identified the driver as George Alvarez, a 34-year-old Brownsville resident "with an extensive rap sheet," at a news conference on Monday. He faces numerous charges, including eight counts of manslaughter and 10 counts of assault with a deadly weapon. Alvarez is currently in custody of Brownsville police, with bond set at $3.6 million.
Investigators have determined that Alvarez, while driving a grey SUV, ran a red light and and struck 18 individuals, according to Brownsville Police Chief Felix Sauceda. Officers arrived at the scene and found seven people dead and another 12 people suffering from critical injuries, he said. An eighth victim died Sunday night. They also found the grey SUV, which was heavily damaged, and the driver. Sauceda said that Alvarez attempted to flee the scene after the deadly crash, but was "held down" by a group of people who had witnessed it.
Police did not share detailed information about the victims, but Sauceda told reporters that all of them were men and "several" were originally from Venezuela.
The chief declined to answer reporters' questions about a possible motive for the driver, adding that they have not yet determined if the crash was intentional. He said witness accounts suggesting that Alvarez was cursing at the pedestrians whom he struck and "saying that they were invaders" were unconfirmed. A toxicology report is underway to clarify whether Alvarez was intoxicated at the time of the crash, Sauceda said.
Brownsville Police Department spokesman Martin Sandoval previously told CBS affiliate KRGV that officers received a call at around 8:30 a.m. local time on Sunday reporting an incident, which, they determined later, involved a Land Rover that "ran over several people" as they waited at the stop near Ozanam Center, a shelter for migrants and unhoused people in Brownsville, Texas. Witnesses said that the driver disregarded a red light before swerving into the bus stop and rolling over, Sandoval said.
At least some of the people who were killed were confirmed to be migrants, Sandoval said.
Some of the migrants at the scene were trained paramedics who began assisting others, Brownsville Mayor Trey Mendez said.
Officers detained the driver of the Land Rover, who was "receiving medical care" when Sandoval spoke to KRGTV on Sunday afternoon, he said at the time.
The suspect was being uncooperative, according to Brownsville police.
One of the victims, Angel Carvacas, was waiting at the bus stop because he was on his way to reunite with his mother.
"I saw him on the ground it was as if the world fell apart," his cousin, Silbio, told CBS News. He said the two of them were headed to New York to start their new lives in the U.S.
"He looked out a lot for his family," Silbio said. "He worried a lot for his family."
At the scene of the crash, there is a growing memorial to honor Carvacas and the other lives lost.
Myrna Arteaga, the manager of the Ozoman Center, called the incident "horrific." She said the shelter receives about 80-120 migrants per day.
"It wasn't an accident," Arteaga said.
An investigation into the deadly incident is ongoing, but witnesses told police that "the car lost control" when it occurred.
"Now, whether we know if it was an accident or intentional, that is still under investigation," Sandoval said. The spokesperson noted that people who witnessed it "started helping some of the individuals there" and detained the driver themselves while waiting for police to arrive at the scene.
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