Francisco Oropesa: What we know about Texas shooting suspect accused of killing five over ‘noise complaint’

A nine-year-old boy was one of the five victims killed during a mass shooting this weekend

Ariana Baio
Wednesday 03 May 2023 16:47 BST
Five dead, including eight-year-old, in Texas shooting
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After four days of searching, law enforcement captured 38-year-old Francisco Oropesa, who is suspected of fatally shooting five people in Cleveland, Texas.

Mr Oropesa allegedly entered his neighbor’s home armed with an assault-style rifle on Friday evening (28 April) after his neighbor, Wilson Garcia, asked him to stop shooting his gun in his backyard because it was keeping Mr Garcia’s baby awake.

Mr Garcia said that a few minutes after they spoke, Mr Oropesa walked over to the home and opened fire, killing five people including Sonia Argentina Gúzman, 25, her nine-year-old son Daniel Enrique Laso, Diana Velázquez Alvarado, 21, Julisa Molina Rivera, 31, and José Jonathan Cásarez, 18.

All five victims were from Honduras according to reports, though Ms Velázquez Alvarado’s husband said his wife was a permanent resident of the United States.

For days after the horrific shooting, multiple law enforcement agencies including the Houston FBI and San Jacinto Sheriff’s Office searched everywhere for signs of Mr Oropesa.

That is until Tuesday (2 May) when authorities followed up on an anonymous tip that led them to Mr Oropesa’s whereabouts in Cut and Shoot, Texas, a town outside of Conroe and near Cleveland.

Francisco Oropesa (Especial)

Who is Francisco Oropesa?

The 38-year-old lived next door to the home of the victims with his wife and son who was a similar age to the youngest victim.

Authorities say Mr Oropesa often shot his rifle in his yard which led neighbors to call law enforcement on other occasions, according to The New York Times.

Mr Oropesa owned an AR-15-style rifle along with other weapons found inside his home.

Mr Oropesa reportedly entered the United States illegally from Mexico, according to Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s office. A source close to the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement told The Independent Mr Oropesa had been deported at least four times since 2009.

San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers said in a press conference that law enforcement identified Mr Oropesa by his Mexican consulate card and ring doorbell footage.

He was described as approximately 5 foot 8 inches and weighing about 160 pounds with a distinct tattoo of a woman on his forearm.

Local news outlet Click 2 Houston reported that Mr Oropesa had a prior arrest record for a DWI in 2009.

Authorities initially spelled Mr Oropesa’s name as Oropeza but updated the spelling to reflect the correct documentation.

The motive

The shooting was reported at around 10.30pm on the 100 block of Walters Road in the Trails End area in the community about 45 miles (72 kilometres) northeast of Houston.

Night shift patrol deputies were dispatched to a residence in reference to a harassment complaint.

Authorities have said that a family member walked up to the fence and requested the gunman stopped shooting rounds in his own backyard. The suspect then allegedly responded that it was his property and the violence unfolded.

The home where the mass shooting took place (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

“The neighbours walked over and said … ‘Hey man, can you not do that, we’ve got an infant in here trying to sleep’ or whatever,” Mr Capers said. “They went back in their house and then we have a video of him walking up their driveway with his AR-15.”

Police received multiple 911 calls of an active shooter incident at the dispatch location.

Three children covered in blood were transported to the hospital, where they were determined to be uninjured, while two other witnesses at the scene were evaluated by first responders and released.

The SJCSO also said that Mr Oropesa “has been known to shoot his 223 out in his front yard, which is evident by the shell casings that are laying in the front yard”.

The victims

Sonia Argentina Gúzman, 25, her nine-year-old son Daniel Enrique Laso, Diana Velázquez Alvarado, 21, Julisa Molina Rivera, 31, and José Jonathan Cásarez, 18 were the victims of the tragic shooting.

Ms Alvarado’s husband Jefrey Rivera told the Honduran network HCH that his wife died protecting their children. He said she hid in a closet with some of the children in the home.

The two other deceased women were found lying on top of two children covered in blood. Police said on Saturday that they died protecting the two minors, who are both believed to have survived.

Mr Rivera recounted the terrifying moments leading up to the massacre. He said that, after Mr Garcia asked Mr Oropesa to stop shooting rounds in his yard, he saw his very intoxicated neighbour approaching with an AR-15 rifle. He then threw a machete at Mr Oropesa in an attempt to protect other relatives in the home.

Sonia Argentina Guzman, 25, and her nine-year-old son Daniel Enrique Laso (Sourced)

“I realised he was coming in our direction while armed with a rifle, so I tried to find something to defend myself with and found a machete,” Mr Rivera told HCH in Spanish. “But by the time I found the machete, shots had already been fired.

Mr Oropesa and Mr Rivera then had a brief confrontation, in which the gunman allegedly said, “I’m going to kill you today.”

He said he managed to escape the violence and called authorities.

Ms Guzman, meanwhile, was killed when she heroically confronted the gunman at the doorway to her home, according to her grieving husband Mr Garcia.

Mr Garcia spoke at a vigil for his son Daniel on Sunday night where he revealed how his wife bravely thought she could stop the gunman opening fire.

He said he saw the suspect running towards his house while reloading his AR-15-style rifle with ammunition and urged his wife to get inside away from the gunman. She refused and went to confront Mr Oropesa instead.

“I told my wife, ‘Get inside. This man has loaded his weapon,’” said Mr Garcia, according to The Associated Press. “My wife told me to go inside because ‘He won’t fire at me, I’m a woman.’”

Ms Guzman was wrong and she became the first victim shot and killed in the horror attack that has sent shockwaves across the country.

Mr Oropesa then went “room to room” opening fire on the victims, said Mr Garcia.

Mr Garcia also revealed that the family had made five separate calls to police in the 10 to 20 minutes between the initial confrontation and the massacre unfolding.

During each call, Mr Garcia said police reassured them that help was on its way. But officers had not yet arrived when Mr Garcia said he saw the suspect entering his family home and opening fire.

Ms Guzman’s cousin told HCH that she had moved to the US eight years ago, while her son had spent five years living in America.

The mother of three leaves behind a two-year-old daughter, a six-month-old baby and her husband.

Her family has created a GoFundMe to raise funds so Ms Guzman and her son’s remains can be repatriated.

“I just spoke with her on the phone yesterday and now they’re sending her back to me in a casket,” Guzman’s mother Francia Guzman also told HCH through tears.

The capture

In the days Mr Oropesa was on the run, he was considered armed and dangerous, with police admitting on Sunday that they had “zero leads” as to his whereabouts.

Police initially tracked Mr Oropesa’s cell phone and found it with abandoned clothing in a densely forested area on Saturday. But after a person submitted an anonymous tip, authorities were able to track him down at a home in Cut and Shoot.

Mr Oropesa was found hiding in a closet under a pile of laundry, according to authorities.

Several other people were arrested, including Mr Oropesa’s wife who previously told investigators she did not know the whereabouts of her husband. Authorities believe she may have helped hide her husband in the house where he was captured.

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