Greg Abbott forced to walk back ‘illegal immigrants’ comment about Texas shooting victims

Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s office walked back on the language used in a statement about the immigration status of victims in the Cleveland, Texas mass shooting.

Spokesperson Renae Eze said in a statement provided to The Independent that the governor’s office regrets if the information they provided was “incorrect” or “detracted from the important goal of finding and arresting the criminal.”

“The true focus remains on catching this heinous criminal who killed five innocent people and bringing the full weight of Texas law against him,” Ms Eze said in the statement.

Over the weekend, Mr Abbott released a statement on his Twitter account and website addressing the mass shooting in which five innocent people were shot dead, allegedly by their neighbour.

However, the Texas governor faced backlash after describing both the suspected shooter and five victims as “illegal immigrants”. All five victims were from Honduras, though the husband of one of the victims said his wife was a permanent resident.

That information has not been verified by law enforcement.

Celebrities, former and current politicians and activists slammed Mr Abbott for referring to the victims as “illegal immigrants” believing it subtracted their value as people who were killed in the United States.

Ms Eze said in the statement that “federal officials provided the state of Texas information on the criminal and the victims, including that they were in the country illegally. We’ve since learned that at least one of the victims may have been in the United States legally.”

The suspected shooter, Francisco Oropesa, is from Mexico and had been deported from the United States four times, a source within US Immigration and Customs Enforcement told The Independent.

Mr Oropesa is accused of walking into his neighbour’s home and opening fire with an automatic rifle-style firearm, killing five people including a nine-year-old boy.

As of now, over 200 members of law enforcement are searching for Mr Oropesa.

Mr Abbott’s office has contributed $50,000 to the $80,000 reward for information and tips leading to the arrest of Mr Oropesa.

In his statement announcing the reward, Mr Abbott said his office’s “hearts go out to the families and loved ones of the five victims that were taken in this senseless act of violence.”