8 dead as car strikes people in Texas border town

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8 dead as car strikes people in Texas border town

Eight people have been killed in the US state of Texas after a car struck a group at a bus stop close to a shelter for the homeless and migrants.

The incident happened in the city of Brownsville near the Mexican border at about 08:30 local time (14:30 GMT).

At least five other people have been injured, some of them critically.

The driver has been arrested and charged. Brownsville police say it is not clear whether the incident was intentional.

Earlier US media reports quoted police as saying it appeared to be a deliberate attack.

The director of the nearby Bishop Enrique San Pedro Ozanam Center, Victor Maldonado, told the BBC World Service’s Newshour programme that surveillance footage showed an SUV running a red light and approaching the bus stop at speed.

The vehicle then hit the curb and flew about 200ft (60m) – hitting those in its path.

Mr Maldonado said that roughly half-an-hour before the incident, a group of around 20 people who had been staying at the centre left and 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.