File photo showing police tape at a crime scene. EFE/EPA/JUSTIN LANE

7 killed when man runs them down in front of migrant center

Washington, May 7 (EFE).- At least seven people – most of them reportedly Venezuelans – died and six were injured Sunday when a man drove an SUV into a group of people waiting at a bus stop in front of a homeless and migrant center in Brownsville, Texas.

According to what Brownsville police told ABC News, a man was arrested in the Texas border city after the incident.

Why the incident occurred has not yet been determined but, Police Lt. Martin Sandoval told local KRGV News that an investigation is being conducted to determine if it was intentional.

About 8:30 am, police received a call saying that a Land Rover had run down several people waiting at a bus stop.

Upon arriving at the scene, officers verified that seven people had been killed, and six others were transported to the hospital with injuries ranging from slight to severe.

The driver was held for police by several witnesses to the incident, and reports were that he was receiving medical attention and tests were being performed on him to determine if he had consumed drugs or alcohol.

Most of the seven people killed were Venezuelans, the director of the shelter, Victor Maldonado, said.

The manager of the Bishop Enrique San Pedro Ozanam Center said in remarks quoted by local media that most of the victims were Venezuelan men, although he made no mention of the nationalities of the people who were injured.

Maldonado said he viewed the video taken by the shelter’s surveillance camera after he received a call informing him of the accident and telling him that the victims were seated together on the sidewalk when the vehicle hit them.

He said that the bus stop on the other side of the street from the shelter was not marked as such, and it lacked a bench for people to sit on.

He said that the video showed what he called a Range Rover passing through the intersection about 100 feet away and hitting the people sitting at the bus stop.

Local media reported that the shelter is the only one operating in the nighttime hours in Brownsville and that it lobbies for the release of the thousands of illegal migrants in federal custody.

The media also reported that the Brownsville Venezuelan community is preparing a vigil for the victims and scheduling it for Monday at 10 am on Minnesota Ave., where the incident occurred.

The number of people injured in the incident is still being determined, police Lt. Sandoval said, since only some of them were transported to hospitals by ambulance.

He said that the center is normally used as a shelter for the homeless but right now, amid the immigration crisis along the US-Mexico border, it is filled with migrants.

The incident comes with just a few days remaining until the May 11 expiration of Title 42, an immigration measure put in place by former Republican President Donald Trump and then continued by Democrat Joe Biden to create a fast-track for expelling migrants on the pretext of preventing potential carriers of the coronavirus from remaining in the US.

To prepare for potential problems caused by the end of Title 42, and a possible increase in illegal migration into the US, the Biden administration has ordered the deployment of 1,500 US troops to the border to aid and provide backup support for the Border Patrol, although the White House has said that the soldiers will not engage in any law enforcement activities, rather functioning in only an administrative role.

EFE –/bp