LS Legal Update Texas family called police 5 times before shooting spree that killed 5: Live updates

Texas family called police 5 times before shooting spree that killed 5: Live updates

A resident of the Texas home where a man opened fire with an AR-15-style rifle said his family called police five times over a span of more than 10 minutes before the rampage that left five people dead and set off a manhunt for the killer .

Wilson Garcia said he asked his neighbor, who was shooting a gun in his yard late Friday night, to shoot farther away because Garcia’s 1-month-old son was sleeping. Garcia said he called the police when the man refused. The family made four more calls, according to The Associated Press.

“I told my wife: ‘Get inside. This man has loaded his weapon,’” Garcia said. “My wife told me to go inside because ‘he won’t fire at me, I’m a woman.’”

Garcia’s wife, Sonia Argentina Guzman, 25, was the first person shot. Garcia’s 9-year-old son was also killed. Garcia said more than a dozen people were in his home at the time and that two women died protecting his infant and 2-year-old daughter, neither of whom was injured.

San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers explained the delayed police response in the town of Cleveland, about 45 miles north of Houston, saying he had only three officers covering 700 square miles. When the police arrived, they found a horrifying scene.

“Everybody that was shot was shot from the neck up, almost execution style,” Capers said.

The suspect, Francisco Oropeza, who has been deported four times since 2009, had been drinking before the shooting, Capers said.

Oropeza, 38, remained at large Monday despite a search involving more than 250 law enforcement personnel from multiple jurisdictions. The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office twice reported possible sightings Monday, but each time the searches came up empty.

“He could be anywhere now,” Capers said.

Mass shooting survivor Wilson Garcia, center, holds a young girl during a vigil for his son Daniel Enrique Laso, 9, Sunday, April 30, 2023, in Cleveland, Texas.

Mass shooting survivor Wilson Garcia, center, holds a young girl during a vigil for his son Daniel Enrique Laso, 9, Sunday, April 30, 2023, in Cleveland, Texas.

Developments:

∙ Capers said officers are going door-to-door looking for information and hopes an $80,000 reward will encourage people who might know something to speak with investigators.

∙ Oropeza’s wife is cooperating with investigators as they try to “seeking closure” for the victims, Capers said.

∙ James Smith, FBI Houston special agent in charge, said the agency initially released the wrong suspect’s photo but “now we are 100% confident that we have the right photo out there.” The office also said it’s spelling the suspect’s last name as “Oropesa” “to better reflect his identity in law enforcement systems.”

Abbot statement draws fire from immigrant advocates

Authorities said Oropeza was from Mexico and the victims were from Honduras. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, in an interview Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” declined to discuss the immigration status of those involved, citing the “active case.”

Gov. Greg Abbott said all were in the country illegallydrawing criticism from immigrant advocates and overshadowing the $50,000 reward he had offered for tips that may lead to Oropeza’s capture.

Abbott’s office issued a retraction Monday, saying, “We’ve since learned that at least one of the victims may have been in the United States legally,” but without addressing why the initial statement mentioned their status.

Abbott spokeswoman Renae Eze said in a statement. “We regret if the information was incorrect and detracted from the important goal of finding and arresting the criminal.”

“Five human beings lost their lives and Greg Abbott insisted on labeling them ‘illegal immigrants,'” tweeted former HUD secretary Julián Castro.

The Immigrant Legal Resource Center chastised Abbott for the describing the victims by their immigration status in a “public message to his constituents who are already flooded w/ deceiving + dehumanizing anti-immigrant rhetoric.”

“My heart is with this … little boy,” Capers said Sunday. “I don’t care if he was here legally. I don’t care if he was here illegally. He was in my county.

Texas mass shooting victims identified

Authorities have identified the dead as Guzman’s wife, Sonia, and son, Daniel Enrique Laso; Julisa Molina Rivera, 31; Diana Velazquez Alvarado, 21; and Jose Jonathan Casarez, 18. Four died at the scene; Daniel died in a hospital a short time after the shooting Friday night.

Garcia said one of the women had told him to jump out a window “because my children were without a mother and one of their parents had to stay alive to take care of them.”

Francia Cristina Guzman, Sonia’s mother, told Honduras’ La Prensa that her daughter had build a house for her in Honduras but that she “would give all that … back” to have her daughter and grandson.

Daniel attended Northside Elementary School. The Cleveland Independent School District issued a statement saying it was “heartbroken learning the news concerning the death of one of our students.” Crisis counselors were available Monday at district schools.

“All of our prayers and thoughts are with the families and communities impacted by this horrible tragedy,” the statement said. “Cleveland ISD will take all measures, precautionary needs and any necessary actions to help all of our students and staff during this time, as well as keeping them safe!”

Velazquez Alvarado’s husband, Jefrey Rivera, told the Honduran network HCH that his wife died protecting children. He said she hid in a closet with some of the children. Rivera said he threw a machete at the suspect in an effort to stop his advance.

“By the time I found the machete, the shots had already been fired,” Rivera said.

‘Zero leads’ on whereabouts of suspect

At a brief news conference Sunday afternoon, authorities said they had “zero leads” on Oropeza.

“We do not know where he is. We do not have any tips on where he may be,” James Smith, FBI Houston Special Agent in Charge told reporters, adding authorities were uncertain whether the suspect was even still in the area. “Right now, we’re running into dead ends.”

Capers said his offices was being supported by the FBI Houston Office and its SWAT team, the US Marshals and Gulf Coast Violent Offenders Task Force, the Harris, Montgomery and Liberty County Sheriff’s Offices, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Rangers.

“Several dozen law enforcement officials are currently investigating leads and intel as it becomes available, as well as continuing to examine the area,” Capers said.

Contributing: Terry Collins, USA TODAY; The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 5 dead in Texas shooting: Family called police 5 times before killings