As police expand their search, the Texas shooting suspect who killed five neighbours, including a child, 'could be anywhere now.'

Authorities admitted over the weekend that the suspected "armed and dangerous" Texas man wanted for fatally shooting five neighbours, including an 8-year-old boy, "could be anywhere now."

Several hundred law enforcement officers, led by the FBI, were desperately using drones, dogs, and horseback searchers to comb through the dense forests surrounding Cleveland, where the heinous crime occurred on Friday night.

Authorities went door to door on Sunday looking for information about suspected gunman Francisco Oropesa, a 38-year-old married father from Mexico who is still on the run after allegedly going berserk and unleashing the horror.

“We do not know where he is,” James Smith, the FBI’s special agent in charge, said Sunday.​

Local San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers said late Saturday that authorities had widened their hunt for Oropesa to at least 20 miles from Cleveland, which is about 45 miles north of Houston.

“We are tracking him with dogs and men on horseback and drones in the air,” Capers said. 

“He could be anywhere now,” the sheriff acknowledged, noting that Oropesa is considered “armed and dangerous.” 

The drunken Oropesa allegedly “executed” his victims with an AR-15-style rifle after the residents asked him to stop firing off rounds in his yard because they had a baby sleeping next-door.

“We asked him to be quiet ‘cause my baby was scared,” said distraught Wilson Garcia, one of the residents, to the local KTRK-TV affiliate, through a Spanish translator.

Law enforcement remove bodies from the scene of the massacre.
Law enforcement remove bodies from the scene of the massacre.

Garcia, whose infant is 1 month old, said his wife, Sonia Argentina Guzman, 25, and his 8-year-old boy, Daniel Enrique Lazo, were both shot dead.

“We had company. We were going to make something to eat. The guy, came out, and he was shooting,” the father said.

“I never thought that he would shoot,’’ Garcia said of Oropesa. “Then he went room to room, looking for people.’’

Oropesa fled after the shooting and is believed to be on foot or a bicycle.

Authorities recovered a phone and clothing while searching surrounding forests for the suspect, who they at first thought they had cornered, Capers has said. But police dogs then lost the scent.

Authorities search for the suspect who allegedly gunned down his neighbors.
Authorities search for the suspect who allegedly gunned down his neighbors.

Cops also found the assault rifle that Oropeza is accused of using for his bloodbath, but he still may be carrying other weapons, officials said. There were other weapons found in his home, the sheriff said.

Neighbors were being asked Sunday if their properties could be searched, and local vehicles were being stopped, as the manhunt for the married dad ramped up and authorities offered an $80,000 reward for information leading to the suspect.​

Oropesa’s wife also was questioned, authorities said, adding that they were able to ID the suspect through a card issued to Mexican residents living outside the country, as well as doorbell-cam footage. Officials initially gave Oropesa’s last name as Oropesa but have since corrected it.

Neighbor Veronica Pineda, a 34-year-old mom of five, praised authorities’ efforts.

The scene of the shooting in Texas.
The scene of the shooting in Texas.

“That’s good for them to do that,” she said.  

“It is kind of scary. You never know where he can be. I don’t think he will be here anymore.”

The neighbor said the suspect, his wife and son have lived in the community five or six years and been known to ride their horses on the street.

The dead victims were between 8 and 31 years old, and all are believed to be Honduran, authorities said.

They were each shot “from the neck up,” Capers said.

Two of the murdered victims were found in a bedroom with their bodies over a pair of kids — apparently in an attempt to shield the little ones, Capers said.

Francisco Oropeza
Francisco Oropesa is reportedly “armed and dangerous” and on the run.
San Jacinto County Sheriff's Office

Three blood-covered children in the home survived the massacre, he said.

There were 10 people in the targeted home at the time of the shooting, although no one else was hurt, officials said. Some of those in the home had only moved in a few days earlier.

There was more than one family in the home, authorities said.

Among those slain were Guzman, Garcia’s 8-year-old son Daniel; Diana Velazquez Alvarado, 21; Julisa Molina Rivera, 31, and Jose Jonathan Casarez, 18.

“We demand that the full weight of the law be applied against the person responsible for this crime,” tweeted Enrique Reina, the secretary of foreign affairs and international cooperation for Honduras.

“The Consulate in Houston is already making contacts with the families, to whom we reiterate our solidarity on behalf of the Government of the President … in case it is necessary to repatriate the remains,” he added.

Police say Oropesa “could be anywhere.”

The bloodshed occurred after at least some of the targeted neighbors went over to the suspect and asked him to stop firing his gun, Capers said. 

“The man walked over to the fence, said ‘Hey, we’re trying to keep the baby asleep in here,’ ” Capers said.

Oropesa responded that he was on his property, the official said. 

There is video of the gunman then going to their front door with his rifle after he had “topped off his magazine,” Capers said.

Police initially widened the search to 20 miles from the scene of the shooting.

A local resident, Rene Arevalo Sr., said he heard the bullets but that he shrugged them off.

“It’s a normal thing people do around here, especially on Fridays after work,” Arevalo said of the gunfire. “They get home and start drinking in their backyards and shooting out there.”

He said that a few months ago, Oropesa threatened to kill his pit bull after it got loose. The suspect ended up chasing the dog around with his truck, Arevalo said.

“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.”

Sheriff’s deputies had previously been to Oropesa’s home at least once because of “shooting his gun in the yard,” Capers said. It wasn’t immediately clear what if action was taken against the suspect at the time. 

Capers only noted that shooting off a weapon even on your own property can be illegal.

Anyone with information on the suspect’s whereabouts should call the sheriff’s office at 936-653-4367, Capers said.  

The deadly assault was only the latest mass shooting in the US, as the country keeps on its record pace for such horrific events, which have included locations such as a Nashville school, a Kentucky bank and a Southern California dance hall.

So far this year, there have been at least 18 shootings that have each left four or more people dead, according to a database maintained by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University. 

The motives have ranged from murder-suicides to gang retaliation and workplace vendettas.

Last year in Texas, there was the heinous attack at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde that left 19 little kids and two teachers dead; a racist gundown at an El Paso Walmart in 2019 in which 23 people were killed, and a gunman opening fire at a church in the tiny town of Sutherland Springs in 2017 that murdered 26 people.

With Post wires

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