BROWNSVILLE, Texas (KVEO) — A Brownsville resident with a lengthy criminal history has been identified by police as the driver accused of smashing into a crowd at a bus stop in the Texas border town Sunday. Eighteen people were hit, eight of whom were killed.
At a Monday news conference, Brownsville Police Chief Felix Sauceda identified the suspect as 34-year-old George Alvarez. Sauceda said Alvarez attempted to flee the scene after the crash, but was held down by people on the scene.
Alvarez was charged with eight counts of manslaughter, and 10 counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. His bond is set at $3.6 million.
The crash happened at 8:30 a.m. Sunday in front of the Ozanam Center, which is a shelter for migrants and homeless people in Brownsville. The SUV ran a red light, lost control, flipped on its side and hit the 18 victims, Sauceda said.
When police arrived on scene, officers found multiple bodies and several injured.
Six people died on the scene and 12 people were critically injured, he said. Officials have said the death toll later rose to eight.
Officials are awaiting toxicology reports to determine whether Alvarez was intoxicated, Sauceda said, adding that there was no motive that he could discuss. Investigators were still working to determine if the collision was intentional, as police suggested Sunday.
Sauceda said the Brownsville Police Department is also working with the Venezuelan government to identify those killed in the SUV strike. As of Monday morning, police said at least several of the victims were Venezuelan men. Their names were not released.
Victims struck by the vehicle were waiting for the bus to return to downtown Brownsville after spending the night at the overnight shelter, said Sister Norma Pimentel, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley.
Brownsville has seen a surge of Venezuelan migrants over the last two weeks for unclear reasons, authorities said. On Thursday, 4,000 of about 6,000 migrants in Border Patrol custody in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley were Venezuelan.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.