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Driver charged for deadly crash outside Texas migrant shelter

Officers are investigating reports that the driver shouted anti-immigrant slurs right before the crash, and trying to determine if he was intoxicated.

(CN) — The driver of an SUV that crashed into a group of immigrants Sunday, killing eight, was identified by police Monday and charged with manslaughter. Authorities said more charges are possible if they determine he intended to hit the victims.

George Alvarez, 34 is in jail on a combined $3.6 million in bonds and has been charged with eight counts of manslaughter, 10 counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and reckless driving, Brownsville Police Chief Felix Sauceda announced in a press conference Monday.

Alvarez ran a red light Sunday morning and seemingly lost control of his vehicle before it rolled on its side and hit a group of Venezuelan immigrants near a bus stop across the street from a shelter that provides temporary housing to new arrivals to the United States, local media reported.

The suspect tried to flee but a group of people grabbed him and held him for police.

Sauceda said his officers are investigating reports that Alvarez shouted anti-immigrant slurs right before the crash, and trying to determine if he was intoxicated at the time of the collisions.

Poster boards regarding George Alvarez stand during a news conference on Monday, May 8, 2023, in Brownsville, Texas. (AP Photo/Valerie Gonzalez)

Officials revealed Monday that Alvarez is a Brownsville resident with a long rap sheet, including charges of driving while intoxicated, vehicle burglary, theft and assault. They said he has refused to let officers do a breathalyzer test or fingerprint him and identified himself with several different names.

Six of the victims died at the scene. Four others were grievously injured and two died in the hospital, Sauceda said.

Shelters in Brownsville, a border city of 187,000 at the southern tip of Texas, are over capacity as more than 1,000 immigrants per day are crossing the Rio Grande into the city with the Biden administration expected to stop enforcing Title 42 on Thursday.  

Started in March 2020 by the administration of former President Donald Trump, ostensibly in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the policy is based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s authority to limit immigration to impede the spread of serious communicable diseases.

The Department of Homeland Security, under Trump and President Joe Biden, invoked it more than 2 million times to quickly remove immigrants from the country without letting them apply for asylum.

Critics, including former CDC officials, say it has done little to halt the transmission of Covid-19.

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