Brownsville, Texas Police Chief Felix Sauceda said Monday that the suspect in Sunday’s car crash involving 18 migrants was a city local with “an extensive rap sheet.”
Police say 34-year-old George Alvarez has been charged with eight counts of manslaughter and 10 counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
On Sunday morning police say Alvarez’s SUV slammed into a crowd, killing eight people and injuring at least 10 others who were waiting for a bus outside a migrant shelter in the city on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Alvarez was also hospitalized. Police released his mugshot at Monday’s news conference (see photo).
On Monday Sauceda further confirmed that all of the victims were male “that we know of, and beyond that we have to wait for official reports.”
The office of Rep. Henry Cuellar (D) released video of the incident taken from a surveillance camera near the Bishop Enrique San Pedro Ozanam Center.
The shelter’s director, Victor Maldonado, told reporters on Sunday, “This SUV, a Range Rover, just ran the light that was about 100 feet away and just went through the people who were sitting there in the bus stop.”
Police had initially been reluctant to specify a motive, or even conclude whether the crash was intentional ahead of Monday’s news conference. However, Brownsville police investigator Martin Sandoval said Sunday that the suspect was “being very uncooperative” when questioned at the hospital, refusing to even give his “true identity.”
Some witnesses on Sunday had claimed the driver had spouted anti-immigration remarks, though police could not initially confirm those claims. Nor could Sauceda confirm on Monday claims that the suspect cursed at eyewitnesses.
However, Sauceda did say that Avararez had initially “attempted to flee the scene after impact but was held down by several individuals.”
Police are also awaiting a toxicology report that may or may not confirm that Alvarez was intoxicated at the time of the crash.
The crash occurred as Customs and Border Protection and other agencies have been preparing for an expected influx of migrants when Title 42, the pandemic era health policy that allowed for expulsions of migrants at the border, ends on May 11 along with the Covid-19 national public health emergency.
When asked by reporters about safety concerns regarding migrants in the city of Brownsville, Sauceda replied, “We have a process in play for that. But this press conference is for the tragedy that we are still investigating.”