Brownsville: Eight dead as car strikes people in Texas border town
In the US state of Texas, eight people were killed after a vehicle struck a group of people at a bus stop near a shelter for homeless migrants and the poor.
Around 14:30 GMT, the incident occurred in Brownsville, near the Mexican border.
Five other people were injured, including some critically.
The driver was arrested and charged. Brownsville police have said that it’s not clear if the incident was intentional.
In earlier US media reports, police were quoted as saying that it seemed to be a deliberately-motivated attack.
The director of the nearby Bishop Enrique San Pedro Ozanam Center, Victor Maldonado, told the BBC World Service’s Newshour program that surveillance footage showed an SUV running a red light and approaching the bus stop at speed.
The vehicle hit the curb, and then flew up to 200ft (60m), hitting anyone in its way.
Mr. Maldonado said that roughly half an hour before the incident, a group of around 20 people who had been staying at the center-left walked over to wait at the bus stop. He earlier told the Associated Press that most of the victims were Venezuelan men.
Some had been intending to catch a local bus downtown to link up with other buses heading to different parts of the US, for which they already had tickets.
“All the staff and myself, we’re trying to hold it together,” Mr. Maldonado said tearfully.
“A lot of the folks that we have here are mums with kids and single males. Right in front of their eyes, they were witnessing a tragedy.”
He added that he had not witnessed any hostility towards migrants in the city but is quoted telling KRGV-TV, a local media outlet, that people had come to the gate since the incident and told the security guard the reason it had happened “was because of us”.
Following the incident, police said the driver was taken to hospital for treatment and underwent drug and alcohol tests. He is reported to have been uncooperative with the authorities.
According to US border protection officials, the city of Brownsville has recently seen a sharp increase in illegal migrant arrivals.
Mr Maldonado also told local media, quoted by AP, that in the past two months the Ozanam Center, an overnight shelter that can hold up to 250 people, has been handling up to 380 people a day.
Officials in Brownsville issued a disaster declaration last month, following other Texas border cities that have done the same.
That’s ahead of an anticipated influx of migrants due to the upcoming expiry of a Covid-era policy that allowed the US to automatically expel undocumented migrants.