30 April 2023

Search widens for suspect after five people shot in Texas

30 April 2023

Police in Texas have widened the search for a man suspected of killing five of his neighbours, including an eight-year-old boy, after they asked him to stop firing guns in his yard while they were trying to sleep.

San Jacinto Sheriff Greg Capers said the search area for Francisco Oropeza, 38, stretched as far as “10 or 20 miles” from the scene of the shooting in the town of Cleveland, north of Houston, on Friday.

The sheriff said the suspect could have a weapon, although authorities believed they have recovered the AR-style rifle used in the shooting.

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, eight. All the victims were believed to be from Honduras.

Local authorities had earlier said incorrectly a 15-year-old girl was among the dead.

The sheriff said none of the other five people in the house were injured and two of the victims were found laying over two children in an apparent attempt to shield them.

He said the confrontation followed a request to stop shooting rounds with one of the people in the house recording the suspect walking up to the front door with a rifle.

Police confirmed they had spoken to the suspect at least once before about shooting his gun in the yard.

Several of the people in the home had moved from Houston earlier in the week.

Neighbour Rene Arevalo Sr said he heard gunshots around midnight but had not considered it unusual.

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

“I tell my wife all the time, ‘stay away from the neighbours’. Don’t argue with them. You never know how they’re going to react.

“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.”

The attack was the latest in a string of mass shootings in the US.

A database compiled by The Associated Press and USA Today in partnership with Northeastern University said there have been at least 18 shootings which left four or more people dead this year.

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox