BROWNSVILLE, Texas – Nearly two weeks have gone by since the indiscriminate killing of eight migrants who were waiting at a bus stop across the Ozanam Center, a refugee shelter in Brownsville, Texas.

The shelter that has served as a stopover for thousands of people from Mexico, Central and South America and from as far as China and India and even from Ukraine and from the North Pole.

On the morning of Sunday, May 7, a sports utility vehicle driven by 34 years old George Alvarez plowed into a line of people, killing eight and injured 10 others as they waited for a bus.

The chaotic scene led to numerous speculations, particularly in light of the anti-immigration rhetoric taking place today and the influx migrants seen on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.

For the most part, the vast majority of the migrants who were staying at the shelter and who saw the horrible incident that killed their fellow countrymen have left the area.

A few of them remain behind and the shelter along Minnesota Avenue is occupied by newcomers also from Venezuela who also say they left their country in search of a better life.

When asked what they know about the incident that took the lives of people like themselves, they said they couldn’t believe it.

“It was horrible,” said one man, as he stood at a convenience store across from the shelter asking people if there is a job he could do for them. “They all died across from here.”

He said the incident made a bad impression on him wondering if it was a target killing.

Rafael Valencia, another Venezuelan, said he read on social media that a  collection has been set up to help the driver get out of jail on the $3.6 million bond.

“Is it true?” he said. “I wonder what will happen if a migrant was the driver.”

Other migrants made similar remarks as they wait patiently to get out here.

Victor Maldonado, the center’s director, said the Sunday’s May 7 incident has left a scar on the organization that he said welcomes any one from anywhere on the earth.

“We don’t distinguish anyone from one county to another,” he said. “But they all have to register with us.”

Maldonado said four people are still staying at two local hospitals with their relatives while the others were released and went to places in Florida and elsewhere.

He said the bodies of the eight still are in the morgues of the hospitals waiting to be claimed by relatives.

He said he doesn’t know when is that going to happen.

Maldonado, the center’s director for the last 14 years, said the incident has created a lot of uncertainty among those staying here.

However, he will continue doing his job running the facility that depends largely on funding from grants.

The Ozanam Center operates on annual budget of about $750,000.

It has a capacity to house 250 people, but Maldonado said as many as 400 stayed here a couple of weeks ago.

He said the average stay of a person is five days at the shelter, though some of them stop for one day before leaving for their destinations.

“Some of the people felt insecure,” Maldonado said, referring to the days after the incident. “They wanted to leave as soon as possible.”

Editor’s Note: Click here to read ways in which Rio Grande Guardian readers can help the families of the migrants killed and injured.

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