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Texas car attack — latest: George Alvarez had multiple drugs in his system at time of Brownsville crash

Police say they are still investigating whether crash at Brownsville migrant center was intentional

Namita Singh,Graeme Massie,Joe Sommerlad
Wednesday 10 May 2023 18:59 BST
Seven dead and 12 wounded in car accident outside migrant shelter in Brownsville, Texas

The driver accused of killing eight people in a crash outside a Texas migrant shelter was found to have multiple drugs in his system, police say.

Suspect George Alvarez, 34, has been charged with eight counts of manslaughter and 10 counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after Sunday morning’s incident.

An initial toxicology report found he had multiple drugs in his system following the crash: cocaine, benzodiazepines and marijuana.

The development comes after a witness to the crash claimed the driver made anti-immigrant remarks before he was detained by members of the public.

Police say they are still investigating whether the crash was intentional as well as the driver’s alleged remarks.

Earlier police revealed that Mr Alvarez has a lengthy criminal history, including multiple assault charges.

And shocking security camera footage shared by Texas congressman Henry Cuellar showed the moment a grey Ranger Rover smashed into the crowd outside of the city’s Bishop Enrique San Pedro Ozanam Center.

The Venezuelan government has called for an investigation to determine if the crash was deliberate and motivated by hate or xenophobia, after it emerged that several of the victims were from Venezuela.


In pictures: Venezuelan migrants at a vigil near the Plaza Bus Station

Venezuelan Maria Cabarcas (L), 43, holds her phone with the picture of who she believes is her deceased son, Enyerbeth Cabarcas, 23, who allegedly was one of the eight victims after an SUV plowed into a crowd, in Brownsville, Texas on 8 May 2023 (AFP via Getty Images)
Wilmer Colima (C), mourns his step son, Enyerbeth Cabarcas, 23, who allegedly was one of the eight victims after an SUV plowed into a crowd, in Brownsville, Texas on 8 May 2023 (AFP via Getty Images)
Venezuelan migrants mourn as they gather near The Plaza Bus Station, in Brownsville, Texas on 8 May 2023, a day after an SUV plowed into a crowd and killed eight (AFP via Getty Images)
Venezuelan migrants chant and hold a Venezuelan national flag as they gather near The Plaza Bus Station, in Brownsville, Texas on 8 May 2023, a day after an SUV plowed into a crowd and killed eight (AFP via Getty Images)
Namita Singh9 May 2023 09:13

Some victims killed in car crash ‘arrived night before’

Cesar Romero, 34, a Venezuelan national who witnessed his friends being run over by the vehicle told CNN “some of the men killed had just arrived the night before”.

Mr Romero corroborated accounts by other witnesses that the driver, who police have identified as George Alvarez, tried to run away and yelled obscenities before being held by other bystanders until police arrived.

Namita Singh9 May 2023 09:25

Police considering three possible explanations

Authorities say they are actively considering three distinct possibilities about Sunday's crash, according to CNN.

The first possibility is that the driver of the SUV was intoxicated (police have taken a blood sample). The second is that the car may have "malfunctioned". The third is that it was a deliberate attack.

"All of these are possibilities", Brownsville Police spokeperson Martin Sandoval told the cable news channel.

Io Dodds9 May 2023 10:25

'We're all Hispanics, who feel everything that is happening'

The crash has prompted an outpouring of support from Brownsville residents, who are 95 per cent Hispanic or Latino according to the latest US census.

According to Texas broadcaster KIII, locals have held a vigil for the crash victims and set up a makeshift memorial with flowers and crosses.

"We're all Mexicans, Hispanics, who feel everything that is happening," said one resident, Maria Esparza. "Me and my family came from immigrants, and we came for a better life."

Io Dodds9 May 2023 10:45

There isn't any protection for us'

A witness to the crash has given a defiant message to anyone who looks down on undocumented migrants.

The 29-year-old Venezuelan man, who asked for his name to not be published, told local broadcaster KIII that he was outside the shelter when the crash occurred and that his only motive in coming to America was to give his wife and son a better life.

"There isn't any protection for us," said the man. "The people that come walking all the way over here are at the mercy of God....

"If you treat me bad because you think you're better than me, for whatever you reason – you have a house, a job, a car, whatever it is – you find a Venezuelan here walking. You should show some more empathy for us, and that goes for the whole world."

Io Dodds9 May 2023 11:05

ICYMI: Everything we know about George Alvarez

My colleague Graig Graziosi has rounded up all the information we currently have about the alleged driver of the SUV, George Alvarez.

Police say Mr Alvarez, 34, was well known to them thanks to a long list of previous criminal charges including assault, aggravated assault, and resisting arrest.

George Alvarez: Everything we know about driver in Brownsville crash that killed 8

Police and the FBI are still investigating whether or not the crash was intentional

Rachel Sharp9 May 2023 11:25

Seven victims still hospitalised after Brownsville crash

Seven victims are still hospitalised with their injuries in the aftermath of the Brownsville horror crash.

Eight people were killed when driver George Alvarez drove into a group of migrants who were waiting for a bus outside the migrant shelter.

The victims have not been publicly identitied.

Rachel Sharp9 May 2023 11:45

Vigil planned for victims for Tuesday

A candlelight vigil will be held on Tuesday in honour of the victims killed when a car rammed into a group of migrants outside a shelter in Brownsville, Texas.

The vigil will be held at 7pm MST outside the Sacred Heart Church on Tuesday.

“Following the tragic incident that occurred last Sunday, May 7 in Brownsville, Texas, which resulted in the deaths of 7 innocent lives, the Border Network for Human Rights will hold a vigil in solidarity with migrants across our state and nation,” said the Border Network for Human Rights in a Facebook post.

Rachel Sharp9 May 2023 12:05

WATCH: George Alvarez charged with manslaughter

Brownsville, Texas bus stop crash: Suspect, George Alvarez, charged with manslaughter
Rachel Sharp9 May 2023 12:28

George Alvarez’s criminal history revealed:

During a press conference on Monday, police noted that George Alvarez has a lengthy criminal history.

His past charges include numerous assault charges, an aggravated assault charge, and additional charges for burglary, theft, DUI, and resisting arrest.

He is currently being held on a $3.6m bond, according to CNN.

Rachel Sharp9 May 2023 12:50

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