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Driver Is Convicted of Killing of 8 People in Texas

USDriver Is Convicted of Killing of 8 People in Texas

A jury on Friday convicted a man of eight counts of intoxication manslaughter after he drove into a crowd of migrants outside a shelter in the border city of Brownsville, Texas, last year, killing eight people.

The man, George Alvarez, 35, of Brownsville, was convicted after a weeklong trial, according to Edward Sandoval, a Cameron County prosecutor. Mr. Alvarez faces up to 20 years in prison on each count, Mr. Sandoval said. A sentencing hearing was scheduled to begin on Friday afternoon, Mr. Sandoval said.

According to witnesses and the authorities, Mr. Alvarez drove a Range Rover through a red light at around 8:30 a.m. on May 7, 2023, and plowed into a crowd of newly arrived migrants outside the Ozanam Center, a shelter for the homeless in Brownsville that serves many migrants.

When police officers arrived they found a gruesome scene. Chief Felix Sauceda of the Brownsville Police Department said last year that six of the people struck by the vehicle had died on the spot and two died later at a hospital. Ten others suffered severe injuries.

Mr. Sandoval said the evidence showed that Mr. Alvarez was on cocaine at the time and was driving recklessly while under the influence. Investigators did not find that he had the intent to kill, Mr. Sandoval said.

Mr. Alvarez’s lawyers did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment on Friday.

Chief Sauceda said last year that Mr. Alvarez had been arrested many times previously, including on charges of burglary, assault, theft and driving while intoxicated.

After the crash, a group of people detained the driver when he tried flee, according to Eyder Hernandez, who was among those who stopped him.

When arrested, Mr. Alvarez refused to cooperate with investigators, the police said. According to a police report, an arresting officer reported that he heard Mr. Alvarez say, “Se me atravesaron” — “They got in my way” in Spanish — moments after the crash. The officer added that Mr. Alvarez showed clear signs of intoxication.

“He had droopy, watery eyes and had a look of fatigue on his face,” the officer wrote.

Many of the victims had traveled together from Venezuela to Texas, becoming like a family along the way, Mr. Hernandez said.

Migrants at the Ozanam Center often stay for only a few days while they work to secure travel elsewhere, Victor Maldonado, the executive director, said last year. They “do odd jobs and get a little money so they can move on,” he said.

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