After two days of searching, law enforcement has come up empty in the manhunt for the Texas gunman who killed five of his neighbors.
FBI special agent in charge James Smith said, “I can tell you right now, we have zero leads,” asking the public for any tips for Francisco Oropeza’s whereabouts.
The shooting occurred on Friday night, after neighbors reportedly asked the 38-year-old gunman in a respectful manner to “shoot his gun farther away from the house” because they were trying to put their baby to bed for the night. After Oropeza refused, Wilson Garcia “walked away and called the police.”
What transpired in the next ten minutes was truly horrific. Garcia recalls that he saw Oropeza running toward his home while loading up his AR-style rifle, saying, “I told my wife, ‘Get inside. This man has loaded his weapon,’” but his wife thought she’d be safe, “My wife told me to go inside because, ‘He won’t fire at me. I’m a woman.’”
Sonia Argentina Guzman was the first to die that night followed by Wilson’s 9-year-old child, Daniel Enrique Laso, along with Julisa Molina Rivera, Josué Jonatán Cáceres, and Diana Velazquez Alvarado.
The investigation was initially bungled after the FBI released the wrong photo of the suspect. Smith said, “It was a mistake on our side of it,” continuing “We identified it, we acted quickly to remove that photo. We looked at what we had, and now we are 100% confident that we have the right photo out there.”
By Sunday evening, the search had grown to include more than 200 police, many of whom are going door to door asking residents for any clues. Federal, state, and local officials have also issued a reward, which is now at $80,000 for any information.
Bizarrely enough, Oropeza is being characterized as “an even-handed family man” which “make[s] the suspect’s disappearance all the more unexpected.” Neighbor Shawn Crawford who knew both the shooter and the victims, called Oropeza a “family guy,” stating “He’s always working, training his horse…Never have I seen a fight, argument, raise his voice, anything.”
With the search underway and widening, authorities believe Oropeza appears “to have slipped past a 2-mile dragnet of more than 150 law enforcement officers in Cleveland, Texas, about 45 miles north of Houston.”
As the manhunt continues, Texas Governor Greg Abbott is facing down criticism for his response to the shooting, sparking outrage by calling the victims of Friday night’s shooting “illegal immigrants.”
Greg Capers, San Jacinto County Sheriff has vowed to find the outlaw, stating “It is my No. 1 priority,” adding “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 our people to the best of our ability.”