‘No one feels safe anymore’: Migrants on edge in Brownsville after deadly crash, gun incident

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – Migrants in Brownsville are on edge after a crash claimed several people’s lives outside a migrant center over the weekend, and police reported a man brandished a gun at that exact location on Monday.

“I don’t feel safe anymore. No one there feels safe anymore. Everyone there wants to leave,” said Jesus Moreno, a migrant in Brownsville.

Eight people were killed, and multiple were injured after a driver ran a red light and struck a group of people at a bus stop in Brownsville, according to officials.

The crash happened around 8:30 a.m. Sunday in front of the Ozanam Center, a homeless shelter for migrants, near Minnesota Avenue and North Bernal Drive in Brownsville, just miles from the Texas border.

Moreno said he was across the street at the time of the crash and knew one of the victims.

“It’s a moment where you enter shock,” Moreno said. “The mentality of that 18-year-old that died there was different. He wanted to work. He wanted to buy his mom a house.”

Brownsville Police Department spokesperson Martin Sandoval told KSAT a driver in a gray Land Rover ran a red light at the intersection and struck a crowd of 18 people.

The driver, George Alvarez, was detained and received medical attention. The 34-year-old is currently being held at the Brownsville city jail.

Authorities still have not said if the crash was intentional. Police Chief Felix Sauceda said Alvarez was charged with eight counts of manslaughter and 10 counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, according to the Associated Press.

Additionally, officials are awaiting the results of a toxicology report.

Monday, there was a threat of a shooter at the shelter, according to Brownsville police public information officer Martin Sandoval.

Sandoval said police got a call for a man with a gun who approached the center’s property.

The suspect took off from the scene. Police caught the man but found no gun.

They arrested the suspect for possession of marijuana, and authorities are searching for the gun.

“It’s dangerous. The people are scared now. The people don’t confide in anyone,” Moreno said of the migrants.

The migrant center is the only overnight shelter in the city of Brownsville and manages the release of thousands of migrants from federal custody, according to the Associated Press.

Sandragrace Martinez, a humanitarian helping in Brownsville, said migrants are on edge.

“Right now (the crash site) is sacred ground where it happened. People are very careful not to step on the grass,” Martinez said.

On the other hand, Martinez said, “People are passing by and honking and saying negative things.”

All of this comes as Title 42 comes to an end on Thursday. The pandemic-era rule allows the federal government the ability to expel migrants without having to consider asylum.

As Title 42 winds down, a large influx of migrants is expected.

Meanwhile, Martinez says migrant centers across the border are already at or over capacity. She said many migrants are arriving in the U.S. without a plan and having issues accessing funds sent to them.

“They cannot obtain the money because they have to go to western union. They have to show identification, which they don’t have, so there needs to be a third party to make that transfer quick and easy,” said Martinez.

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