After his neighbors in Texas asked him to stop firing shots in his yard because they were trying to sleep, the man went next door with a rifle and fatally shot five of them, including an 8-year-old boy, authorities said on Saturday.
More than 18 hours after the shooting, the suspect, Francisco Oropeza, 38, was still at large, and authorities warned him that he might still carry a weapon. Just before midnight on Friday, the attack occurred close to Cleveland, a hamlet north of Houston, on a street where some locals claim it is customary to hear neighbors unwind by firing off weapons.
Oropeza, according to San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers, used an AR-style weapon, and as Saturday wore on, officials expanded their search to include areas “10 to 20 miles” away from the crime scene.
He claimed Oropeza might still have a firearm, although he thought police had recovered the shooting’s rifle.
Capers claimed that when searching a rural location covered in thick layers of woodland, they discovered clothing and a phone but that the tracking dogs had lost their smell.
“He could be anywhere right now,” Capers added.
According to Capers, the fatalities ranged in age from 8 to 31 and were all considered Hondurans. “From the neck up,” he claimed, all of them were shot.
The shooting was the most recent instance of gun violence in the United States this year, which has seen a record number of mass shootings, some of which also employed semiautomatic weapons.
The mass murders have occurred in several locations, including a dance hall in Southern California, a bank in Kentucky, a school in Nashville, and now a single-story home in a rural Texas neighborhood.
According to Capers, ten individuals were in the house, some of whom had only moved in earlier this week, but no one else was hurt.
He claimed that two victims were discovered in a bedroom, lying over two kids in what appeared to be an effort to protect them.
According to FBI spokesperson Christina Garza, investigators do not think all the people in the house were members of a single family.
Sonia Argentina Guzman, age 25, Diana Velazquez Alvarado, age 21, Julisa Molina Rivera, age 31; Jose Jonathan Casarez, age 18; and Daniel Enrique Laso, age 8, were the victims.
According to Capers, the neighbors approached the fence and asked the suspect to cease firing shots, which led to the altercation.
According to Capers, the suspect retaliated by claiming that it was his property, and a home resident managed to record a video showing the guy approaching the front door while brandishing a weapon.
A few houses down, Rene Arevalo Sr. claims he heard gunshots around midnight but dismissed them.
Arevalo remarked, “It’s something people do around here, especially on Fridays after work. “When they get home, they start drinking and shooting in their backyards.”
It is unclear whether any action was taken when Capers claimed his deputies had visited Oropeza’s home at least once and spoken with him about “shooting his gun in the yard.”
The sheriff did not mention whether Oropeza had previously broken the law when he made the statement at a news conference on Saturday evening. It is possible to be against the law to fire a pistol on your land.