HOUSTON (CN) — The FBI on Monday advised news media not to bother relatives of five people killed Friday night by their enraged neighbor as more than 250 law enforcement officers continue their search for the gunman.
Authorities say Francisco Oropesa Perez-Torres, 38, entered his neighbor Wilson Garcia’s home around 11:30 p.m. Friday with an AR-15 style rifle and fatally shot five people in the head, including Garcia’s 9-year-old son, after Garcia and two other men asked him to stop firing his gun because his baby was sleeping and repeatedly called 911.
Home surveillance cameras filmed Oropesa approaching Garcia’s front door with his rifle.
Two of the victims, all of whom are from Honduras, were women who Oropesa shot after they flung themselves over Garcia’s 2-year-old daughter and infant to protect them.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced a $50,000 reward Sunday for information on Oropesa. The FBI and a local Crime Stoppers organization are also offering $25,000 and $5,000 rewards, respectively, for leads on Oropesa’s whereabouts.
The shooting occurred in a rural subdivision with one-acre lots where many people raise livestock and have horses in Cleveland, Texas, a town of 8,000 residents 45 miles northeast of downtown Houston.
People shooting guns on their property is not unusual, said neighborhood resident Rene Arevalo Sr.
"It’s a normal thing people do around here, especially on Fridays after work," Arevalo told the Associated Press. "They get home and start drinking in their backyards and shooting out there."
Police said they have found clothes, a cellphone and the murder weapon in dense woods, but tracking dogs had lost Oropesa’s scent.
The area is ideal for a person trying to elude police as it is a short distance from the 161,508-acre Sam Houston National Forest.
Sheriff Greg Capers of San Jacinto County, whose department is leading the investigation, said Saturday evening that law enforcement had widened the hunt for Oropesa to 20 miles from his home. They believe he fled on foot because no vehicles were missing from either his home or the victims’ house.
According to the FBI, there are more than 250 law enforcement officers from over 12 agencies searching for Oropesa.
The FBI identified the victims as Sonia Argentina Guzman, 25, wife of Wilson Garcia, the neighbor who complained to Oropesa; Daniel Enrique Laso-Guzman, Garcia’s 9-year-old son; Daniel Juliza Molina Rivera, 31; Diana Velazquez Alvarado, 21; and Jose Jonathan Casarez, 18.
Garcia told the New York Times that after Oropesa shot his wife, he jumped out a window, at the urging of another woman in the house, “because my kids were without a mom already and needed at least one parent.”
Family members of the victims have asked for privacy while they make funeral arrangements, and the Honduran Foreign Ministry said it plans to repatriate their remains.
“The victims' families ask that you please not approach them as they are walking in/out of the funeral home or at their respective homes. They are asking for space and privacy as they are still in shock and processing the horrors of the tragedy they are living. Please. Thank you,” the FBI said Monday on Twitter, adding that no media is allowed into the funeral home handling their funeral services.
A Mexican national, Oropesa was in the United States without papers and had been deported at least four times, an unnamed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement source told CNN on Monday. He was also convicted in 2012 of driving while intoxicated in Montgomery County, Texas and sentenced to jail time, according to CNN.
Abbott’s office said Garcia and his family were also in the United States without lawful status. Capers stressed that has no bearing on the investigation and search for Oropesa.
“My heart is with this ... little boy,” he said at a news conference. “I don’t care if he was here legally. I don’t care if he was here illegally. He was in my county.”
The shooting was one of 12 mass shootings in the U.S. from Friday to Sunday, according to the Gun Violence Archive.Follow @@cam_langford
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