Police search for answers after eight killed by SUV driver at Texas bus stop

CRIME SCENE DO NOT CROSS / @CSI:cafe" by [puamelia] is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED.

Authorities in Brownsville, Texas have a man in custody but have so far said little about whether the driver intentionally drove his SUV into a crowded bus stop on Sunday morning or if the fatal incident was an accident or the result of drunk driving. Here’s what we do know.


With no bench at the unmarked city bus stop, some of the victims were sitting on the curb around 8:30 a.m. when the driver hit them, surveillance video from the Bishop Enrique San Pedro Ozanam Center showed. Brownsville police investigator Martin Sandoval, who confirmed the latest death Sunday evening, said police did not know whether the collision was intentional.

Shelter director Victor Maldonado said the SUV ran up the curb, flipped and continued moving for about 200 feet (60 meters). Some people walking on the sidewalk about 30 feet (9 meters) from the main group were also hit, Maldonado said. Witnesses detained the driver as he tried to run away and held him until police arrived, he said.

“This SUV, a Range Rover, just ran the light that was about 100 feet (30 meters) away and just went through the people who were sitting there in the bus stop,” said Maldonado, who reviewed the shelter’s surveillance video.

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.

Most of the victims were Venezuelan men, Maldonado said. 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 driver was taken to the hospital for injuries sustained when the car rolled over, Sandoval said. There were no passengers in the car, and police didn’t immediately know the driver’s name or age, Sandoval said Sunday afternoon.

Sandoval said there are three possible explanations for the collision: “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.

“He’s being very uncooperative at the hospital, but he will be transported to our city jail as soon as he gets released,” Sandoval said. “Then we’ll fingerprint him and (take a) mug shot, and then we can find his true identity.”


I suppose it’s not unthinkable that the man behind the wheel of the Range Rover would have been drunk at 8:30 on a Sunday morning, though that wouldn’t be my first guess as to why he plowed his car into a crowd full of people waiting at a bus stop. Hopefully authorities will soon be able to provide more details about the suspect and his intentions here, but at this point there’s nothing that would rule out these being an intentional act of murder.

We’ve been inundated this weekend with a narrative that the only way to stop targeted attacks involving firearms is to ban the guns themselves, but what happened in Brownsville is a painful and tragic reminder that going after inanimate objects while failing to deal with the individuals who are actually intent on causing harm is a strategy that is destined to fail. We can’t ban our way to safety, no matter how comforting that thought may be for some folks. In order to substantially reduce the number of targeted attacks that we’re seeing far too many of these days we have to deal with the people who are responsible, and in order to do that we’re going to have to make significant improvements to both our mental health and criminal justice systems. It may not be as emotionally satisfying of a response for some Americans as banning AR-15s or other commonly-owned firearms, but if the goal is to do something that works instead of just “doing something” it’s where we have to focus our efforts going forward.


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