Texas mass shooting: Manhunt enters 3rd day for neighbor who allegedly killed 5
Authorities are continuing the search for the suspect connected to an “execution-style” shooting that killed five family members in Texas, including an 8-year-old boy.
The carnage began Friday night after neighbors asked the suspect, Francisco Oropesa, 38, to stop shooting his gun in the yard of his home in Cleveland, Texas, about 50 miles north of Houston, investigators said.
The San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office received a call around 11:31 p.m. Friday detailing harassment, San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers told reporters on Sunday. When deputies arrived at the home, they found five victims at the property, Capers said.
Three minors who were found uninjured but covered in blood were transported to a local hospital, authorities said. Two of the female victims were discovered in the bedroom lying on top of two surviving children, authorities told reporters.
All of the victims are from Honduras, police said.
Oropesa is still on the loose and likely armed with an AR-15-style rifle. He is a “threat to the community,” FBI Houston field office agent James Smith told reporters during a press briefing on Saturday.
The FBI has “zero leads” on where Oropesa could be, Smith said Sunday while announcing an $80,000 reward for information leading to his capture.
“We do not know where he is,” Smith told reporters during a press briefing. “We don’t have any tips right now to where he may be.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced a $50,000 reward later Sunday. “I continue working with state & local officials to ensure all available resources are deployed to respond,” he tweeted.
The neighbors had asked the suspect to stop shooting his gun in the front yard because there was a baby trying to sleep, Capers told KTRK.
Oropesa, who allegedly had been drinking, responded, “I’ll do what I want to in my front yard,” Capers said.
The massacre went from a case of harassment to a shooting very quickly, Capers said. All of the victims were shot from the neck up, “almost execution-style,” Capers told KTRK.
The victims were identified by authorities as Sonia Argentina Guzman, 25; Diana Velazquez Alvarado, 21; Julisa Molina Rivera, 31; Jose Jonathan Casarez, 18; and Daniel Enrique Laso Guzman, 8. Five other people who were in the home were not harmed.
Footage from a Ring doorbell at the victims’ house shows the shooter entering the home with a weapon, Capers said.
Four of the victims were pronounced dead at the scene. The youngest, an 8-year-old boy, was declared dead after being transported to the hospital, police said.
Some of the victims were trying to shield their children from the bullets, Capers said.
Shell casings were found in Oropesa’s front yard, police said.
Wilson Garcia, who owns the home, told KTRK that the family was preparing a meal when Oropesa began shooting on his property.
Garcia told KTRK he moved in three years ago and “never had a problem” with his neighbor until Friday. Garcia’s wife and young son were among the victims killed in the shooting.
“I don’t have words to describe what happened,” Garcia said during a vigil Sunday. “It’s like we’re alive but not living. What happened was really horrible. I lived through it because I was there. I managed to escape by miracle.”
“Two people died protecting my 2-and-a-half-year-old daughter and my month-and-a-half-old son,” an emotional Garcia continued. “They protected him with a pile of clothes so the killer wouldn’t kill them, too.”
Garcia said he was in the house at the time of the shooting and escaped by climbing out of a window. Garcia said a woman in the house who told him to get out of the window was one of the people who died.
“She told me to jump through the window because my kids are now without a mother and one of us needed to stay alive to take care of them,” he said.
“What can I say, I’m trying to be strong for my kids,” Garcia said. “My daughter somewhat understands, and it’s difficult when she starts to ask for her mom and her brother.”
During Sunday’s vigil, Garcia said his son was 9 years old; authorities have said the boy was 8. Some of Garcia’s remarks also differed from his previous account when he spoke to KTRK.
Neighbor Veronica Pineda told KTRK that she had grown accustomed to neighbors shooting firearms in the area.
“There’s always shooting,” she told the station. “There’s always people calling the cops and there’s nothing being done.”
Another neighbor named Shawn told reporters that the tight-knit neighborhood is typically “peaceful” and described the victims as “good people.”
“It is a shock that this took place in our neighborhood,” he said.
Investigators described Oropesa as a 5-foot-8 Hispanic man with a goatee and short black hair. He was last seen wearing jeans, a black shirt and work boots.
Authorities believe they have the weapon used in the attack, a .223 rifle, but do not know if Oropesa is carrying a smaller weapon, Capers said.
Investigators have found Oropesa’s abandoned cellphone and several articles of clothing, Capers said.
The San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI’s Houston Field Office are assisting in the manhunt.