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The latest from Brownsville, Texas, where a driver killing 8 by plowing into a crowd


Today in Brownsville, Texas, they're holding vigils for the eight people killed in that city yesterday. The deaths happened when a driver struck a group of people gathered across the street from a migrant shelter. Texas Public Radio's Gaige Davila is in Brownsville. Hey there, Gaige.


KELLY: Hey. So I know you've been at one of these vigils today. Tell me about it.

DAVILA: Yeah. Well, for the Rio Grande Valley residents there and the migrants who are staying at the Ozanam Center, they were clearly distraught by what happened yesterday. And just to clarify, that's the shelter across the street from the bus stop where the group was hit. And the mood was mournful but also tense as the shelter has seen a lot of media attention in recent days and is trying to protect the people who are staying there. And that vigil started at the Ozanam Center but then moved across the street to the bus stop, where people had left candles and flowers. Immigrant advocacy organizations based in the Rio Grande Valley were there talking about the importance of caring for each other but especially for migrants who were in Brownsville, all of whom have gone through so much hardship to get here.

KELLY: What do we know at this point about the victims?

DAVILA: Well, the Ozanam Center executive director, Victor Maldonado, had described the men as hard-working people who were trying to make better lives for themselves. All of the people who were hit yesterday were men from Venezuela who had stayed overnight at the Ozanam Center. Twelve people are in hospitals across the Rio Grande Valley right now, all of them in critical condition, some of whom have missing limbs. Six people died at the scene, and another two died later at the hospital.

KELLY: What about the driver, Gaige? - 'cause there have been a lot of questions as to whether this was an accident or was intentional. What do we know about the driver?

DAVILA: Sure. Well, Brownsville Police Chief Felix Sauceda said during the press conference this morning that the subject is George Alvarez, who is a Brownsville resident in his 30s. He has an extensive criminal history, according to Brownsville PD. He's currently held at Brownsville City Jail on a $3.6 million bond, and he's charged with eight counts of manslaughter and 10 counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Now, they haven't confirmed whether Alvarez intentionally drove his car into the people, only that he lost control of the Range Rover he was driving and flipped it after hitting them. And video shows that Alvarez did attempt to run from the scene, but bystanders restrained and even started beating him.

KELLY: OK. So where does the investigation go from here?

DAVILA: Well, investigators have not ruled out whether the collision was intentional or not. And I know that claim was circulating in media reports yesterday. But Brownsville PD have made it pretty clear that they do not know for certain if that's the case. Alvarez could see more charges brought against him based on toxicology reports from the screening he took yesterday. And he's apparently been uncooperative with investigators since his arrest. So that could delay more information for some time. And as for the victims, Brownsville PD is working with the Venezuelan government on identifying them and notifying their families. And the Ozanam Center is also helping this effort.

KELLY: Texas Public Radio's Gaige Davila in Brownsville. Thanks.

DAVILA: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Gaige Davila | TPR