Seven people were killed and another 10 were wounded when they were run over in front of a Texas migrant shelter by a motorist, say police. Authorities are investigating whether the incident was an intentional act.
The shocking incident took place on Sunday morning near Brownsville’s Ozanam Center, which is a shelter for migrants and homeless in the Texas city.
Police spokesperson Lt Martin Sandoval told KVEO-TV that seven victims died at the scene. The crash took place at a bus stop near the shelter in the border city.
The male suspect, who has not yet been named, was arrested and charged with reckless driving, but Lt Sandoval told the news station that more charges will likely be filed.
The incident took place at around 8.30am CT, say officials.
The driver, who officials say is a Brownsville resident, is in the hospital being treated and under 24-hour guard watch, police said, and tests for drugs and alcohol will be performed, reported ABC News.
Some migrants were killed in the incident, Lt Sandoval told Fox News.
“We are doing an investigation in forms of intoxication to see if he was intoxicated at the time of the accident,” said Lt Sandoval.
“It can be three factors,” Lt Sandoval said. “It could be intoxication; it could be an accident; or it could be intentional. In order for us to find out exactly what happened, we have to eliminate the other two.”
The incident came the day after a gunman opened fire on shoppers at an outlet mall in Allen, Texas, killing eight people. The gunman was shot and killed by a police officer responding to the violence.
One injured victim told Valley Central that the group of men were sitting on the curb near the bus stop when a grey Range Rover slammed into them.
Luis Herrera told the news channel that he and his friends, a number of whom were killed, were waiting to go to the airport when they were struck by the vehicle.
“We were going to the airport and it happened unexpectedly because a woman in a car passed by and advised us to separate and moments later the killer was coming in the car gesturing and insulting us,” Mr Herrera said.
Shelter director Victor Maldonado of the Bishop Enrique San Pedro Ozanam Center said that he had reviewed the shelter’s surveillance video of the incident.
“What we see in the video is that this SUV, a Range Rover, just ran the light that was about a hundred feet away and just went through the people who were sitting there in the bus stop,” Mr Maldonado told The Associated Press.
And he told the news channel that most of the victims were Venezuelan men.
The shelter is the only overnight one in the city of Brownsville and manages the release of thousands of migrants from federal custody, he said.
The facility had not received any threats before the crash, but Mr Maldonado said it had in the wake of the accident.
“I’ve had a couple of people come by the gate and tell the security guard that the reason this happened was because of us,” Mr Maldonado said.