Driver is Charged with 8 Counts of Manslaughter after Crashing his Car Outside Texas Migrant Shelter

By Hannah Lozada

On Sunday, May 7th, around 8:29 a.m., a driver crashed his S.U.V. into a group of migrants who had just arrived in the United States. They were standing at a bus stop near Ozanam Center, a homeless migrant shelter in Brownsville, South Texas that normally houses migrants who cross the border from Mexico. —-The driver was identified by the police as 34-year-old George Alvarez, a local Brownsville resident. Security cameras revealed footage of the crash. A gray Range Rover S.U.V. was traveling on North Minnesota Avenue toward Boca Chica Boulevard. Outside the Bishop Enrique San Pedro Ozanam Center, Alvarez ran a red light and soon lost control of the vehicle, which caused it to flip onto its side. This resulted in 18 pedestrians that were hit on impact. According to the Brownsville Police, this crash killed 8 people, with an addition of 10 people injured. There were around 20-25 people near the crash scene. 

After the crash, Alvarez tried to escape, but he was “held down” by bystanders who had witnessed the scene. The police are unsure if this incident was a purposeful act or accidental, but they believe it could be intentional since most of the victims were migrants from Venezuela. He has been arrested by the Brownsville police with his bond set at $3.6 million dollars. Alvarez is currently facing several charges for his crimes. This includes eight counts of manslaughter and ten counts of assault with a deadly weapon. 

In the image, there is a long list of crimes that Alvarez has committed:

  • Aggravated Assault with a deadly weapon (2nd degree)
  • Assaulting the Elderly or Disabled (1st degree)
  • Assault Inflicting Bodily Injury to a Family Member (4th degree)
  • Assault of Public Servant (1st degree)
  • Burglary of a vehicle (2nd degree)
  • Assault Causing Bodily Injury (1st degree)
  • Criminal Mischief (2nd degree)
  • Driving While Intoxicated (1st degree)
  • Evading Arrest Detention (1st degree)
  • Interference with Public Duties (1st degree)
  • Obstruction or Retaliation (1st degree)
  • Possession of Marjiuana <2oz (1st degree)
  • Resisting Arrest Search or Transport (3rd degree)
  • Theft of Property >$50 <$500 (1st degree)

After the crash, the police interviewed witnesses from the crash scene. Victor Maldonado, the director of the Bishop Enrique San Pedro Ozanam Center was featured in a CNN article about the case. Maldonado says, “The staff and residents of the Ozanam Center are devastated by Sunday’s tragic event.” He continues with his statement, “The individuals injured and killed are asylum-seekers. They came [to the United States] seeking refuge…” (Valencia, Levenson, Flores, and Salahieh). 

Cesar Romero is a Venezuelan man who had witnessed the crash and saw his friends get run over by the S.U.V. “Some of the men [who were] killed had just arrived the night before,” he said while crying. Romero said that after the crash, Alvarez exited his vehicle and tried to flee the scene but bystanders prevented him from escaping. 

Brownsville Police spokesman Martin Sandoval made a statement about the case. According to a CNN interview, Sandoval has three theories that could reveal the driver’s motives. He states, “We are looking at it three different ways. One, to see if he was intoxicated. We took a blood sample… over to the Texas [Department of Public Safety] crime lab. Two, we have to look at it as a malfunction of the car. Or three[,] it could be [an] intentional [car crash]. All of these are possibilities” (Valencia, Levenson, Flores, and Salahieh). 

The Brownsville police, the Venezuelan government, and the FBI will continue investigating the crash. They will try to find out if the crash was intentional or accidental. They have decided to do a blood test to discover if Alvarez was intoxicated during the crash. They will also collect fingerprint evidence to further identify him. They will also try to identify the victims of the crash. All of these things might take a long period of time, but will eventually provide the police, the public, and the victims with closure to the case. 

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