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8 people killed after vehicle drives into group at bus stop in Texas border city

Emergency personnel respond to a fatal collision in Brownsville, Texas, on Sunday. Several people were killed after they were struck by a vehicle while waiting at a bus stop near Ozanam Center, a migrant and homeless shelter.
Michael Gonzalez
/
AP
Emergency personnel respond to a fatal collision in Brownsville, Texas, on Sunday. Several people were killed after they were struck by a vehicle while waiting at a bus stop near Ozanam Center, a migrant and homeless shelter.

Updated May 7, 2023 at 9:35 PM ET

Police in Brownsville, Texas say at least eight people are dead and nine others are injured after an SUV struck a group of people waiting for a bus in the border community. The driver is in custody.

The crash occurred at about 8:30 a.m. on Sunday at a bus stop near the Ozanam Center, a shelter for migrants, Brownsville Police investigator Lt. Martin Sandoval said in a video posted to the department's Facebook page.

Brownsville police said earlier that seven people had died but on Sunday night said that number had increased to eight. Sandoval told ABC affiliate KRGV that an unknown number of immigrants were among the victims.

Ozanam Center shelter director Victor Maldonado said he reviewed the shelter's surveillance footage after receiving a call about the crash, The Associated Press reported.

People waiting at an unmarked city bus stop had been sitting on the curb, Maldonado told the news agency. He said most of the victims were Venezuelan men.

Video shows a Range Rover SUV running a red light about 100 feet away from the bus stop before plowing into the group of people sitting on the curb, Maldonado said. The SUV flipped after running over the curb and continued moving for another 200 feet.

Some people who were walking on the sidewalk about 30 feet away from the main group were also hit, Maldonado told the AP.

The driver, identified as a man from Brownsville, has been charged with reckless driving, Sandoval told KRGV. He said authorities are investigating whether the crash was intentional or accidental. They are also testing the driver for intoxication.

"It is looking more and more like an intentional act," Sandoval told the station.

The driver was being treated at the hospital before he is taken to jail, he said.

A group of people were waiting for a bus to take them to the airport, where, from there, they would take another bus or a flight, Sandoval said.

Luis Herrera told local station ValleyCentral that he and his friends were waiting to go to the airport when they were struck by a gray Range Rover.

"It happened unexpectedly because a woman in a car passed by and advised us to separate and moments later the killer was coming in the car gesturing and insulting us," Herrera said.

The Ozanam Center shelter sits just five miles from the migrant encampments in Matamoros, Mexico, where thousands of migrants are waiting for Title 42 to expire. The pandemic-era public health order, set to be lifted this week, allows the U.S. to expel migrants without considering asylum.

Attorney General Merrick Garland has been briefed on the situation, a Justice Department spokesperson said in a statement. The FBI is assisting the Brownville police investigation, the spokesperson said.

"I cannot describe the heartache I feel at hearing the news from this morning, not just as an advocate for the rights of migrants, but as a resident of Brownsville," Rochelle Garza, president of the Texas Civil Rights Project, said in a statement.

Garza called for state officials to invest "in a humanitarian response that might have helped the people who were impacted by this morning's tragedy."

La Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE), a immigrant rights advocacy group, plans to hold a vigil for the victims on Monday at 10 a.m. at the Ozanam Center.

"While officials investigate and we wait to learn more details, we are alarmed that this happened near a shelter that provides aid to immigrants in Brownsville," the group said in a statement.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.