Seven people remain hospitalized in Brownsville, Texas, as a candlelight vigil is planned Tuesday in another Texas border town for the eight others who were killed when a vehicle plowed into a group of people at a bus stop over the weekend.
While the victims have not yet been publicly identified, authorities say several immigrants were among those killed when a Land Rover hit the group in Brownsville on Sunday, across the street from the Bishop Enrique San Pedro Ozanam Center, a non-profit homeless shelter helping to house migrants in the border town, authorities say.
The director of the Ozanam Center, Victor Maldonado, described those killed and injured as asylum seekers.
“They came seeking refuge. They were staying at our shelter because they arrived in this country with very little,” he said.
During the Tuesday evening vigil in El Paso, advocates and community members are expected to mourn the lives lost and call “for the humanization of migrants who have made the harrowing journey and difficult decision to leave their country in search of safety, opportunity, and a better life,” organizers said in a news release.
“As one united front, Border communities across Texas stand in solidarity with migrants and refugees across our state and country who have arrived in search of safety and opportunity. You are not alone, no estan solos,” said Fernando Garcia, Executive Director of the Border Network for Human Rights, one of the groups organizing the vigil.
The fatal crash comes as Brownsville and other border towns brace for a migrant surge when the public health emergency measure known as Title 42 lapses on Thursday.
Brownsville recently declared a state of emergency after receiving an influx of thousands of migrants, many from Venezuela, in the past several weeks, CNN previously reported.
CNN interviewed migrants staying at the Ozanam Center in December. At the time, the center’s director said migrants from all over the world were starting to stay at his shelter and he was seeing an uptick in stays.
Driver charged with 8 counts of manslaughter
The driver, identified as 34-year-old George Alvarez, was charged with eight counts of manslaughter and 10 counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, Brownsville Police chief Felix Sauceda said Monday.
Police say they are still investigating the cause of the violent crash.
Alvarez ran a red light and lost control of his vehicle, which flipped on its side and hit a total of 18 people, the chief said. Alvarez then tried to flee the scene before he was detained by bystanders, police said.
Alvarez has an extensive rap sheet, including prior charges of assault and driving while intoxicated, according to police.
Exclusive video obtained by CNN shows a group of people trying to restrain the man after the crash.
Cesar Romero, 34, is a Venezuelan national who said he witnessed the crash and saw his friends run over by the vehicle.
“Some of the men killed had just arrived the night before,” he said while tears rolled down his face.
Romero said that after the crash, the driver got out of his vehicle and appeared to be impaired. He said the driver tried to run away and yelled obscenities, but witnesses stopped him.
The driver was uncooperative after the crash and gave authorities different names, Brownsville Police spokesman Martin Sandoval said.
“We are looking at it three different ways,” Sandoval said. “One, to see if he was intoxicated. We took a blood sample, and we have to turn it over to the Texas DPS crime lab. Two, we have to look at it as a malfunction of the car. Or three it could be intentional. All of these are possibilities.”
CNN’s Rosa Flores, Nick Valencia, Eric Levenson and Dave Alsup contributed to this report.