Texas man wrongly identified by FBI as Cleveland shooting suspect is now in hiding over safety fears

Oropesa is suspected of fatally shooting five people

Ariana Baio
Monday 01 May 2023 20:35 BST
Five dead, including eight-year-old, in Texas shooting

A man who shares a similar name to the suspect in a deadly shooting in Cleveland, Texas, is now hiding in fear for his safety after the FBI wrongly identified him in a social media post.

The man, Francisco Oropeza, has the same last name as the true suspect Francisco Oropesa, but spells it was a “z” instead of an “s”.

Mr Oropesa is accused of killing five people, including a nine-year-old boy, during a shooting spree on Friday (28 April).

While FBI Houston was releasing information related to the killing, they mistakenly released Mr Oropeza’s commercial driver’s licence photo and name to the public

Mr Oropeza, the man wrongly identified, is not the shooter. Instead, he is a husband and father to three children who recently started a new job in Fort Worth, according to his sister-in-law who spoke with Fox 4.

Mr Oropeza apparently called the FBI after they posted a photo of him to correct the mistake.

FBI Houston later took down the photo and tweeted, “An incorrect image of Francisco Oropeza with a blue backdrop was mistakenly disseminated earlier today. That image has since been removed from FBI social media accounts. Please do not use that photo.”

“At that point, we were like ‘Oh gosh. What do we do? This is being shared basically nationwide. It’s all over the place,’” the sister-in-law said.

The mistake apparently led to death threats online this past weekend.

They also tweeted that the suspect they were searching for was named Mr Oropesa not Mr Oropeza.

Mr Oropeza’s sister-in-law told Fox 4 that he is a truck driver who drives all around the US. She said he and his family have not gone outside since the misidentification for fear of being wrongly identified.

“What if somebody sees the tweet and sees a Facebook share and sees the picture and then they see him? You know?” she said.

The woman said Mr Oropeza and his family are remaining indoors for now out of fear of being misidentified in public.

FBI Special Agent James Smith, who is in charge of the Houston office, said in a press conference that releasing the wrong photo was “a mistake” that they will “own up on.”

“We identified it. We acted quickly to remove that photo,” Mr Smith said.

“We went back, looked at what we had, and now we are 100 per cent confident we have the right photo out there”.

The Independent has reached out to Houston FBI for comment.

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