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Man who killed 5 neighbors in Texas ‘could be anywhere,’ sheriff says

The suspect, Francisco Oropesa, killed the five victims after one asked him to stop shooting rounds in his yard, San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers said.
/ Source: NBC News

CLEVELAND, Texas — Authorities are searching for a man accused of fatally shooting five of his neighbors, including an 8-year-old child, in their Texas home after one asked him to stop firing rounds in his yard.

The suspect, 38-year-old Francisco Oropesa, was armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic black rifle when he went to the home in the Trails End area in Cleveland around 11:30 p.m. Friday and opened fire, the San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office said.

On Saturday, authorities believed they had the suspect within a 2-mile or so search area but later said he may have slipped past it after they found his cellphone and clothing.

“He could be anywhere now,” San Jacinto Sheriff Greg Capers said at an afternoon news conference.

James Smith, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Houston-area office, urged anyone who spots the suspect to call 911.

“We consider him armed and dangerous,” he said. “He is out there, and he’s a threat to the community.”

Capers identified the five people killed as Sonia Argentina Guzman, 25; Diana Velazquez Alvarado, 21; Julisa Molina Rivera, 31; Jose Jonathan Casarez, 18; and Daniel Enrique Laso, 8.

He said earlier all were from Honduras.

Authorities investigate the scene of a mass shooting in Cleveland, Texas
Authorities investigate the scene of a mass shooting in Cleveland, Texas, on April 29, 2023.KPRC

The sheriff said authorities seized the rifle used in the attack, but the suspect might still be armed with a handgun.

Capers said scent-tracking dogs lost the Oropesa’s trail Saturday, and he could be 20 miles away or farther.

The FBI, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Texas Department of Public Safety were part of the manhunt, authorities said. Some of the law enforcement officers searching for the suspect were on horseback.

Authorities said deputies were called to the home in reference to a harassment complaint.

“While en route, the communications center received multiple 911 calls of an active shooter incident at the dispatch location,” the sheriff’s department said.

Four of the victims were found dead inside the house, the sheriff’s office said in a Facebook post Saturday. The child died at a hospital.

Victims were found in the living room, a bedroom and by the front door of the home.

“There was two females in the bedroom that were laying on top of juvenile children and, my opinion, to keep them children safe,” Capers said in an interview. 

“All of them were headshot in an execution style,” he said.

Three juveniles were taken to the hospital. Capers said they were “covered in blood” but were not physically injured.

Two others in the home were evaluated on scene and released, the sheriff’s office said.

An arrest warrant was issued for the suspect, who is a Mexican national, and a judge assigned a $5 million bond. He faces five counts of murder.

Francisco Oropeza.
Francisco Oropesa.Jacinto County Sheriff Department.

Capers said the suspect was allegedly known to fire his gun in the front yard of his home, but it wasn’t entirely clear if shooting on his property was illegal. It might depend on the size of the property, he said.

Deputies have been to the residence in the past based on similar complaints about open gunfire, he said.

Shortly before the shooting, one of the victims came outside and told the suspect that their baby was trying to sleep, Capers said.

In an interview, Capers described what allegedly happened next:

“This man takes it upon himself to walk out of his residence with a loaded AR-15, walk out into the street, walk down the street, walk into that man’s driveway, walk up into that man’s house and start shooting.”

The sheriff said it has been a difficult case.

“To walk in the door and see four, and then a baby at the hospital, being the fifth one, is grotesque,” he said in the interview.

He said he believes as many as 15 rounds were shot inside the victims’ home.

The San Jacinto County Democratic Party said it was canceling a pre-planned annual fundraiser Saturday night in the wake of the shooting and would instead hold a prayer vigil for the victims.

“San Jacinto County is devastated by the horrific events that happened last night,” John Michael Adams, Chair of the San Jacinto County Democratic Party, said in a statement. “We’ve decided that it no longer made sense to hold our annual fundraiser tonight, but still felt we needed to come together as a community — however we could — and send our love and prayers to the loved ones of the victims of this senseless shooting.”

Cleveland, Texas is roughly 45 miles north of Houston.

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