A massive manhunt is still underway in Texas as more than 250 law enforcement officers from more than a dozen agencies search for the man suspected of shooting and killing five of his neighbors, including a young child, after he was asked to stop firing his rifle near their home, authorities say.
Wilson Garcia told CNN that he and two others walked over to the suspect’s home in Cleveland, Texas, Friday night to ask that he shoot his gun on the other side of his yard because the earsplitting gunfire was making Garcia’s baby cry.
But the suspect, identified by law enforcement as 38-year-old Francisco Oropesa, refused, Garcia said. Police were called five times to report the neighbor’s activities, he said, but by the time police arrived at the scene, it was already too late.
Oropesa had already charged into the home where the father was staying, first shooting Garcia’s wife, Sonia Argentina Guzman, in the doorway before shooting three other adults and Garcia’s 9-year-old son, Daniel Enrique Laso-Guzman, he said.
Oropesa had been drinking that night, San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers said.
Garcia said he fled the home after a woman inside told him his two other children needed him to survive. That woman was also killed by Oropesa, he said.
“(She) saw when my wife fell to the ground and was dying, and she told me to throw myself out the window because my children were already without their mother,” said Garcia.
When police arrived at the home they found the victims had been shot “almost execution style” from the neck up, Capers told local media.
Authorities have identified the other victims as Diana Velázquez Alvarado, 21; Julisa Molina Rivera, 31, and José Jonathan Cásarez, 18. Though authorities previously reported that Daniel Enrique Laso-Guzman was 8 years old, Garcia said his son turned 9 in January.
Now, Oropesa – a Mexican national — could be anywhere as investigators have no indication of his whereabouts and are quickly approaching dead ends in their search, FBI Houston Special Agent in Charge James Smith said in a news conference Sunday.
A collective $80,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the suspect’s arrest as authorities seek justice for the victims — who were all Honduran nationals — and safety for the surrounding community.
“We consider him armed and dangerous,” said Smith. “He’s out there, and he’s a threat to the community.”
As the FBI special agent, Smith, said there were “zero leads” into Oropesa’s whereabouts as of Sunday afternoon, investigators are taking painstaking efforts to uncover information.
Authorities had been tracking Oropesa’s cell phone, but found it abandoned Saturday, along with some clothing, according to Capers. And though tracking dogs were able to pick up a scent from the items, they later lost it, he said.
Law enforcement officers have been going door to door seeking security camera footage or any other information residents may have, Capers, the sheriff, said.
The hefty reward for Oropesa’s arrest will also be advertised on Spanish-language billboards that will be erected in the area to urge the public to submit tips, the sheriff said.
“I can pretty much can guarantee you he’s contacted some of his friends,” Smith said. “We just don’t know which friends they are, and that is what we need from the public is any type of information.”
Oropesa’s wife has been interviewed multiple times and is in “constant contact” with investigators, the sheriff said.
After officials confirmed those killed were all Honduran nationals, the Honduran Foreign Ministry said it is preparing to repatriate their remains.
“The Government of Honduras deeply regrets the loss of these valuable lives and accompanies all their loved ones in their pain. We demand that the pertinent authorities arrest the perpetrator of this terrible event and apply the full weight of the law,” the agency said in a statement.
Garcia, who wife and son were killed, told CNN that there were 15 people in the house at the time of the shooting. Authorities said earlier that there were 10 present.
On Sunday, Capers became emotional as he spoke about Daniel Enrique Laso-Guzman.
“My heart is with this eight-year-old boy,” Capers said. “I don’t care if he was here legally. I don’t care if he was here illegally. He was in my county. Five people died in my county, and that is where my heart is — in my county, protecting my people to the best of our ability.”