A horrific tragedy unfolded in the border city of Brownsville, Texas, on Sunday when an SUV driver plowed into a crowd at a bus stop outside a migrant shelter, leaving at least seven dead and 10 injured. The shelter, Bishop Enrique San Pedro Ozanam Center, is the only overnight shelter in the city and handles the release of thousands of migrants from federal custody. The shelter’s director, Victor Maldonado, reviewed the center’s surveillance video and reported that the bus stop was not marked, and people waiting there were sitting along the curb. Most of the victims were Venezuelan men.
According to Maldonado, the SUV flipped after running up on the curb and continued moving for about 200 feet, hitting some people walking on the sidewalk about 30 feet from the main group. Witnesses detained the driver as he tried to flee and held him until police arrived. Brownsville police investigator Martin Sandoval said the crash happened at around 8:30 a.m. and that they did not know whether the driver intentionally hit people.
The driver, who was injured when the car rolled over, was taken to the hospital, and police did not immediately know his name or age. Police retrieved a blood sample and sent it to a Texas Department of Public Safety lab to test for intoxicants. Brownsville has long been a hub for migration across the U.S.-Mexico border and is a critical location of interest for the end to pandemic-era border restrictions known as Title 42, which will take effect next week.
The Ozanam shelter can accommodate 250 people, but many who arrive leave the same day. In recent weeks, an uptick in border crossings has prompted the city to declare an emergency, with local, state, and federal resources coordinating enforcement and humanitarian response. While the shelter offers migrants transportation during the week, they also use the city’s public transportation. Maldonado said the center had not received any threats before the crash, but they did afterward. U.S. Representative Vicente González said Sunday that local officials are in communication with the federal government about the crash, and police are continuing their investigation.