Suspected gunman arrested after 5 dead in Texas mass shooting

Suspected gunman arrested after 5 dead in Texas mass shooting

CLEVELAND, Texas — Authorities near Houston say they have caught a man suspected of killing five of his neighbors, including a 9-year-old boy, with an AR-style rifle after the family confronted him late at night about firing rounds in his yard.

Francisco Oropeza, 38, was arrested Tuesday, four days after the shooting late Friday in the town of Cleveland, about 45 miles north of Houston, according to Montgomery County Sheriff Rand Henderson.

Oropeza was was arrested without incident, Henderson said. The sheriff would not say whether Oropeza was armed or how authorities figured out where he was.

Police had used drones and scent-tracking dogs during the wide search for Oropeza that included combing a heavily wooded forest a few miles from the scene.

San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers said Oropeza had fled the scene after the attack that also left four adults dead. He said his deputies had been called to the suspect’s house at least one other time previously over shooting rounds in his yard.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who faced backlash over drawing attention to the victims’ immigration status, had offered a $50,000 reward over the weekend for any tips that might lead to the gunman.

While doing so, the three-term governor described all the victims as “illegal immigrants” — a potentially false statement that his office walked back and apologized for Monday.

More than 250 law enforcement officers from multiple agencies, including the U.S. Marshals, were part of a growing search.

The alleged shooter is a Mexican national who has been deported four times, according to U.S. immigration officials. The gunman was first deported in March 2009 and last in July 2016. He was also deported in September 2009 and January 2012.

The victims were identified as Diana Velazquez Alvarado, 21; Julisa Molina Rivera, 31; Jose Jonathan Casarez, 18; Sonia Argentina Guzman, 25; and Daniel Enrique Laso, 9.

The incident started when Oropeza, who was firing in his yard, was asked by neighbors to shoot further away so a baby could sleep. “He told us he was on his property, and he could do what he wanted,” said Wilson Garcia on Sunday at a vigil for his 9-year-old son who was killed in the attack that soon followed.

Garcia called the police after Oropeza rejected his request. The man shot some more, and now it sounded louder. In the neighborhood of homes on 1-acre lots, Garcia could see the man on his front porch but couldn’t tell what he was doing.

His family continued to called police — five calls in all, Garcia said. Five times the dispatcher assured that help was coming.

And then, 10 to 20 minutes after Garcia had walked back from Oropeza’s house, the man started running toward him, and reloading.

“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.’”

The gunman walked up to the home and began firing. Garcia’s wife, Sonia, was at the front door, and the first to die.

The house held 15 people in all, several of them friends who had been there to join Garcia’s wife on a church retreat. The gunman seemed intent on killing everyone, Garcia said.


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