Seven people waiting at a bus stop in a Texas border city were killed and a dozen more were injured early Sunday when a vehicle rammed into them, officials said.
The victims, who are believed to be migrants, were at a stop near a Catholic Charities facility in Brownsville known as the Ozanam Center when they were struck, a senior law enforcement official told NBC News.
Initially, the senior law enforcement official said, authorities believed it was an intentional act. The official later said that it’s not clear whether it was intentional, and that the investigation into the motive is ongoing.
Lt. Martin Sandoval of the Brownsville Police Department echoed that in an interview with NBC News, saying that police were also looking into whether the driver was intoxicated or whether the incident was an accident.
But, Sandoval said, the driver, who is a Hispanic male, has not been cooperating with investigators.
“He has given us several names,” said Sandoval, adding that they are waiting for a fingerprint match that authorities hope will identify the driver, who has been charged with reckless driving.
Sandoval said more charges are likely to be filed against the driver.
Eleven people injured in the 8:30 a.m. crash were taken by ambulance to local hospitals for treatment, the Brownsville Fire Department said on its official Facebook page.
One of the injured was airlifted to Valley Baptist Medical Center in nearby Harlingen, the department said.
One migrant from Venezuela who had been staying at the Ozanam Center for three days told NBC affiliate KVEO of Brownsville that he was almost struck.
“We were waiting there and the truck sped through the traffic light and by the grace of God nothing happened to us, but they did hit the others around us,” the man, who gave his name as Jesus, told the station.
Brownsville is one of the border cities that is already seeing a surge in migrants attempting to cross into the United States from Mexico ahead of the lifting of the Title 42 immigration program, which ends on May 11.
Imposed in the last year of the Trump administration, the Covid ban has turned migrants back to Mexico more than 2.5 million times since it went into effect in March 2020.
Sister Norma Pimentel, who is executive director for Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, said that the Ozanam Center houses some migrants overnight. She said they have not received any direct threats in connection with the border crisis in recent weeks.
“Truly unfortunate that this tragic thing happened,” Pimentel said. “It’s something that with all the attention to the migrants it must pick up the attention to those who are against them.”
Migrants “don’t deserve to face this tragic reality,” Pimentel said.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.