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Catholic bishops respond to Texas tragedies that left 16 dead, including group of migrants

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A woman touches crosses setup at a memorial during a vigil on May 8, 2023, in Brownsville, Texas. The vigil was held in remembrance of the eight people killed May 7, 2023, and several injured after a man allegedly drove his car through a group of migrants waiting at a bus stop. / Credit: Photo by Michael Gonzalez/Getty Images

Washington D.C., May 8, 2023 / 13:15 pm (CNA).

Two tragedies over the weekend have left 16 dead and many more wounded in Texas.

Eight migrants were killed and 10 injured when a speeding SUV Sunday morning plowed into a group of people in the border city of Brownsville, local police investigator Martin Sandoval confirmed while speaking on NewsNation Prime Sunday night.

According to the Associated Press, the victims were Venezuelan migrants, most of whom were men. They were waiting for a bus after spending the night at a migrant shelter called the Bishop Enrique San Pedro Ozanam Center.

The driver, a man who has not yet been identified, ran a red light and sped off the road into a crowd of waiting migrants.

The killer also sustained injuries and was taken into custody, where police say he has been non-compliant. No motive has yet been established for the killing. However, authorities are investigating the incident as possibly an intentional massacre.

Responding to an influx of migrants, primarily from Venezuela, passing through the region, the city of Brownsville indefinitely extended a state of emergency in a May 4 disaster declaration.

In response to the killing, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville, along with auxiliary bishop Mario Alberto Avilés, offered a Mass at the Ozanam Center Sunday evening.

According to a statement released by Flores on May 7, the Ozanam Center works closely with Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley to offer shelter, care, and resources to migrants in need.

“The safety, protection, and assistance of the immigrant men, women, and children who have been given permission to stay in the United States remains a priority for the Catholic Diocese of Brownsville,” said Flores, adding: “We must resist the corrosive tendency to devalue the lives of immigrants, the poor, and the vulnerable.”

Only a day earlier, eight more people were killed and several wounded in a deadly shooting in a Dallas suburb at Allen Premium Outlets.

Victims of Saturday’s shooting have been identified as young as 5, according to BNO News.  

CNN reported that the killer, a man identified by authorities as Mauricio Garcia, was wearing a tactical vest and armed with a rifle and handgun. Garcia was shot and killed on the scene by responding police officers.

Bishop Edward Burns of Dallas responded to the shooting in a Saturday statement, saying: “I am deeply troubled by the shooting in the community of Allen and the senseless disregard for life that has occurred in our community,” adding that “the Catholic community is in unity and solidarity with the families who have lost loved ones in this tragedy.”

“May God, our Heavenly Father, bring comfort and strength to all affected by this tragic event,” Burns said. “We must work for an end to the violence. We must pray for peace within our communities. And, we must have the courage to stand up to the forces of evil and the culture of death.”


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