Francisco Oropeza is a suspect in a mass shooting Friday in a rural Texas neighborhood. He is the next-door neighbor of his shooting victims. Oropeza shot four members of a family execution-style in their home. A fifth person, an 8-year-old child, was flown to a hospital and later died. As I write this on Sunday morning, the manhunt is still underway.
San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers said they were able to identify Oropeza through his Mexican consulate card and a doorbell camera. What isn’t being said in reporting is whether or not Oropeza is in this country legally. The consulate card indicates to me that he is still a Mexican citizen. Is there an elephant in the room here? The press has a bad habit of not giving the most basic of facts when it comes to legal and illegal immigration.
The mass shooting happened in the small community of Cleveland, Texas, about 50 miles north of Houston. The reporting goes that Oropeza was intoxicated and shooting a gun in his backyard on Friday night. His neighbor, Wilson Garcia, asked him to stop making the noise because his baby was trying to go to sleep. In the area where many immigrants have settled, it is common for its residents to unwind by firing off guns in their yards.
Rene Arevalo Sr., who lives a few houses down, said he heard gunshots around midnight but didn’t think anything of it.
“It’s a normal thing people do around here, especially on Fridays after work,” Arevalo said. “They get home and start drinking in their backyards and shooting out there.”
Arevalo said he warned his wife about staying away from their neighbors.
A few months ago, Arevalo said Oropeza threatened to kill his dog after it got loose in the neighborhood and chased the pit bull in his truck.
“I tell my wife all the time, ‘Stay away from the neighbors. Don’t argue with them. You never know how they’re going to react,’” Arevalo said. “I tell her that because Texas is a state where you don’t know who has a gun and who is going to react that way.”
Garcia, age 30, said that when Oropeza refused to stop shooting his gun – claiming it as his yard and he’d do what he wants – he said he would call the police. Oropeza, age 38, escalated. He walked into his house and came back out with an AR-15.
He walked toward Mr. Garcia’s cream-colored home, where he shot and killed Mr. Garcia’s wife, who had called the police and was standing near the entrance.
The rampage continued inside Mr. Garcia’s home, where the authorities said Mr. Oropeza fatally shot four other people, “almost execution-style.”
“He wanted to kill us all to leave no evidence,” Mr. Garcia said in an interview.
This happened at about 11:30 p.m.
The FBI released the names of the victims. The agency is part of a multi-agency manhunt for Oropeza. It asks for help from the public if they have any information.
FBI spokesperson Christina Garza said investigators do not believe everyone at the home were members of a single family. The victims were identified as Sonia Argentina Guzman, 25; Diana Velazquez Alvarado, 21; Julisa Molina Rivera, 31; Jose Jonathan Casarez, 18; and Daniel Enrique Laso, 8.
The multi-agency search for suspect Francisco Oropeza continues this morning. Reminder, if you see him DO NOT approach him. He is armed and dangerous. If you have a tip about his whereabouts call the San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office at 936-653-4367. #ClevelandTXshooting pic.twitter.com/GcQT6jzYmn
— FBI Houston (@FBIHouston) April 30, 2023
Sheriff Capers said the shooter was identified with the help of a doorbell camera. He also said there have been other calls to Oropeza’s house in the past.
“We know him by name, date of birth. We’ve got his Mexican consulate card. Plus, there was a ring doorbell on the victim’s house that we actually captured him coming up to the front door with with the weapon,” Capers said.
Capers said they have had previous calls to Oropeza’s home regarding him shooting his rifle in the yard.
“I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had a call out here, but we have researched a little bit of that. And we have found some prior history at these residence,” he said.
Capers said Oropeza had an AR15 style rifle along with at least two other weapons found inside his home. He also said they are interviewing Oropeza’s wife.
According to DPS records, Oropeza does have an arrest for DWI in 2009.
A warrant has been issued for Oropeza on five counts of murder. His bond has been set at $5 million.
There is little else in the way of information in this case. Saturday afternoon the FBI said they recovered Oropeza’s cell phone, some abandoned clothes, and a rifle used in the shooting. Dogs were being used to track him down but they lost his scent in the water.
There were a lot of people living in the house of the victims. Is this area connected to Biden’s border crisis? Lots of non-family members living under one roof raises a red flag, doesn’t it?
Capers said there were 10 people in the house – some of whom had just moved there earlier in the week – but that no one else was injured. He said two of the victims were found in a bedroom lying over two children in an apparent attempt to shield them.
A total of three children found covered in blood in the home were taken to a hospital but found to be uninjured, Capers said.
I’ll update if they catch this murderer or if there are major developments in the case.
Fox News reports that the man is in the United States illegally. He has been deported and re-entered numerous times. There is an $80,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.
UPDATE: Governor Abbott offers a reward.
I’ve announced a $50K reward for info on the criminal who killed 5 illegal immigrants Friday. Also directed #OperationLoneStar to be on the lookout.
I continue working with state & local officials to ensure all available resources are deployed to respond. pic.twitter.com/SpkUgKqKGe
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) April 30, 2023