After a dayslong manhunt, accused gunman Francisco Oropesa, a 38-year-old Mexican national, was found Tuesday evening stowed under a pile of laundry in a closet just a few miles from the massacre site after a tip helped lead authorities to him, San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers said Tuesday.
Law enforcement also tracked Oropesa’s partner to the home, which is associated with one of the suspect’s family members, a law enforcement source told CNN.
The suspect is expected to appear in court Wednesday to be read the charges, a source with the San Jacinto County District Attorney’s Office told CNN, adding the charges could be upgraded to capital murder – a death penalty offense in Texas. Authorities are still investigating whether he had any help in evading arrest, the San Jacinto County district attorney told CNN.
Oropesa is accused of fatally shooting five people Friday after he was asked to stop firing his rifle outdoors near his neighbor’s home. Wilson Garcia, whose wife and son were killed, and two others had asked Oropesa to shoot on the other side of his property because the gunfire was waking Garcia’s baby, he told CNN. The suspect refused and soon unleashed gunfire into the home where Garcia’s family was gathered, he said.
The victims – all Honduran nationals – have been identified as Garcia’s wife, Sonia Argentina Guzman, 25, and her son Daniel Enrique Laso-Guzman, 9; Velázquez Alvarado, 21; Julisa Molina Rivera, 31, and José Jonathan Cásarez, 18.
Authorities now have 90 days to indict Oropesa, a law enforcement source involved said. Due to his status as a Mexican national, the Mexican consulate will be formally notified of his circumstances on Wednesday, the law enforcement source said.
At least four times since 2009, Oropesa had entered the US unlawfully and been deported, according to an ICE source. An immigration judge first removed him in March 2009 before he was deported again in September 2009, January 2012 and July 2016, the source said.
It’s unclear how long Oropesa had been in the US before last week’s attack.