Everything we know about the Brownsville, Texas crash that killed 8 people outside a migrant centre

The driver has been identified as George Alvarez, 34

Graig Graziosi
Wednesday 10 May 2023 16:28 BST
Related video: CCTV captures moment vehicle crashes into people outside Texas migrant shelter

Eight people were killed and 10 others injured after a driver in Brownsville, Texas, plowed his SUV into a group pedestrians waiting for a bus.

Many of the individuals hit by the SUV were migrants who had just left a nearby migrant centre, according to Brownsville police.

The crash comes at a time when Texans are still recovering from another shocking tragedy involving public violence — a mass shooting at an outlet mall in Allen — and just weeks after Brownsville issued a state of emergency due to an influx of Venezuelan migrants to the region.

Here's everything we know about the crash:

The Crash

Around 8:29am, police began receiving emergency calls describing a violent car accident in which numerous people were hit by a grey Range Rover.

The crash occurred near the Ozanam Centre, a migrant resource facility.

Brownsville Police Chief Felix Sauceda said the SUV ran a red light, lost control, and flipped onto its side. Video footage of the incident appears to show the vehicle hitting the victims before it flips onto its side.

The Victims

When police arrived on the scene of the accident, they found six people were already dead, and 12 were seriously injured in the crash.

The death toll later grew to eight when two of the victims succumbed to their injuries.

All eight of the victims were men, according to the Brownsville police. Many were seated on the curb when the car struck them.

Many of the victims were migrants waiting for a bus to take them from the migrant centre back to downtown Brownsville, police reported.

The city of Brownsville has recently seen a major spike in migrants seeking help in the region. Many of the migrants are from Venezuela. The spike forced the city to declare a state of emergency while they respond to the new arrivals.

Mr Sauceda said local authorities were working with the Venezuela government to identify the victims and notify their next of kin.

The Driver

Brownsville police identified the driver as George Alvarez, 34.

Mr Alvarez allegedly attempted to flee the scene after the crash, but was detained by bystanders until police arrived. He was then placed under arrest and transported to a hospital for treatment.

He has since been charged with eight counts of manslaughter and 10 counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Mr Sauceda said police are still waiting on toxicology reports to determine whether or not he was impaired at the time of the crash.

Police noted that Mr Alvarez has a long criminal history, including numerous assault charges, one aggravated assault charge, and burglary, theft, and DUI charges.

Police said Mr Alvarez was allegedly being "very uncooperative" with the investigation.

On 10 May, police announced that blood screens from the hospital where Mr Alvarez was being treated showed he had drugs in his system at the time of the crash. Cocaine, benzodiazepines and marijuana were all detected, though his level of intoxication is currently unclear.

The Motive

Mr Sauceda said the vehicle "lost control" before it hit the victims, but noted that law enforcement had not ruled out the possibility that the incident was deliberate.

The FBI has joined the investigation and is currently investigating whether or not the crash was intentional. They have not reached any conclusions in that line of inquiry.

The director of the migrant shelter, Victor Maldonado, said people have reportedly approached the centre's security guards and told them the crash happened because of their facility, according to CBS 4.

“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,” he said.

The shelter has been at or over capacity — 250 — in recent weeks while trying to assist an influx of migrants arriving in the region. He noted that many of the migrants do not want to stay in Brownsville, but said they are stuck in the area due to a lack of transportation options available through the shelter.

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