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

Over 200 members of law enforcement are searching for 38-year-old Francisco Oropesa, who is suspected of fatally shooting five people who lived in the same home 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.

According to Mr Garcia, a few minutes after they spoke, Mr Oropesa walked over to the home and opened fire, killing five people - 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.

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

Now, the town of Cleveland, Texas is in mourning as authorities try to locate and capture Mr Oropesa.

As of Monday, law enforcement says there are “zero leads” as to where Mr Oropesa might be, but he is considered armed and dangerous.

Francisco Oropesa (Especial)
Francisco Oropesa (Especial)

Who is Francisco Oropesa?

The 38-year-old lived next door to the home of the victims with his wife.

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.

According to Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s office, Mr Oropesa entered the United States illegally from Mexico, though law enforcement has not confirmed this.

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

A 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.

Law enforcement is currently searching for Mr Oropesa and has asked the public to send in any tips or information they have that could help them locate him.

So far, they discovered Mr Oropesa’s clothing and phone in a densely forested area but tracking dogs have lost his scent.

There is an $80,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.

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 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.”

On their way there, they 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

Ten people were in the residence at the time of the tragedy. The victims killed have been identified as Sonia Argentina Guzman, 25, and her eight-year-old son Daniel Enrique Laso, Diana Velazquez Alvarado, 21, Julisa Molina Rivera, 31, and Josué Jonatán Cáceres, 18.

Velazquez’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.

Recounting the terrifying moments leading up to the massacre, Mr Rivera said that someone in his household asked Mr Oropesa to stop shooting rounds in his yard because they had several children in the home who were trying to sleep.

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

Mr Rivera said that when he saw his very intoxicated neighbour approaching with an AR-15 rifle, he threw a machete at him in an attempt to protect other relatives in the home.

“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.’

Mr Rivera then reportedly said: “I’m going to kill you first because you’ve already killed my family.” He said he managed to escape the violence and called authorities.

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

Mr Garcia spoke at a vigil for his son Daniel on Sunday night where he revealed how his wife Guzman 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. But 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.’”

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.

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 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 manhunt

Mr Oropesa is considered armed and dangerous, with police admitting on Sunday that they have “zero leads” as to his whereabouts.

Earlier reports by NPR suggested police had located and surrounded the suspect somewhere in the Houston area, but a Saturday night update by the SJCSO stated that Mr Oropesa was still at large.

On Sunday night, the FBI said in a statement that Mr Oropesa was considered armed and dangerous and the public is advised not to approach him.

Authorities have continued searching in the vicinity of the crime scene. Mr Capers said that authorities had widened the search to as far as 20 miles (32 kilometers) from the scene of the shooting

Mr Oropesa’s cellphone was initially being tracked but it was found abandoned along with some clothing on Saturday.

Tracking dogs managed to pick up his scent before losing it in the waterways.

Despite the efforts, SJCSO Sheriff Greg Capers said on Sunday that investigators have “zero leads” and admitted he “could be anywhere,”

A reward of $80,000 is being offered for information leading to his arrest and the reward will be advertised on Spanish-language billboards in the hopes that someone speaks out. Investigators believe he must be in contact with friends.

Mr Oropesa’s wife is said to have been in “constant contact” with investigators.