A mother gunned down in a mass shooting in Texas on Friday was killed when she heroically confronted the gunman at the doorway to her home after the family had called 911 five times to report the suspect.
Wilson Garcia spoke out at a vigil in Cleveland, Texas, on Sunday night after his wife Sonia Argentina Guzman, 25, and eight-year-old son Daniel Enrique Laso were among the five innocent victims killed in the shocking massacre.
Mr Garcia said that the shooting unfolded when the family asked suspect Francisco Oropesa to stop firing his gun so close to their home because the children were trying to sleep.
Mr Oropesa refused, saying he was on his property so could do what he wanted. As the shooting continued, the family called 911 to report Mr Oropesa.
Around 10 to 20 minutes later, Mr Garcia said he saw the suspect running towards his house while reloading his AR-15-style rifle with ammunition.
He said he 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 is said to have gone “room to room” opening fire on the victims.
Five victims – Sonia Argentina Guzman, 25,her eight-year-old son Daniel Enrique Laso, Diana Velazquez Alvarado, 21, Julisa Molina Rivera, 31, and Josué Jonatán Cáceres, 18 – were killed in the attack.
Mr Garcia 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.
Mr Oropesa, who is originally from Mexico, fled the scene in the immediate aftermath of the shooting and is still at large more than two days on.
He is considered armed and dangerous and police admitted on Sunday that they have “zero leads” as to his whereabouts.
On Sunday, Sheriff Greg Capers admitted in a press conference that investigators have “zero leads” as to his whereabouts but believe he is in contact with friends.
A reward of $80,000 is being offered for information leading to his arrest on five counts of murder and burglary.
On Sunday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott finally addressed the latest incident of gun violence in his state – in a statement where he announced his office was contributing a $50,000 reward to catch the suspect and also labelled the victims “illegal immigrants”.
The Republican governor, who has severely relaxed gun laws in Texas since taking office, failed to address the mass shooting for almost two days.
Then, on Sunday, he finally broke his silence, with a statement on social media.
“Announcing a $50K reward for a @TxDPS top 10 fugitive who is in the country illegally and killed five illegal immigrants Friday night. I also directed #OperationLoneStar to be on the lookout for the criminal and any attempts to flee the country,” he said.
The statement sparked an instant backlash with social media users quickly correcting his use of the words “illegal immigrants” with the term “people”.
Star Trek actor George Takei was among those to slam Mr Abbott, tweeting: “This is despicable. I would have thought bringing up the immigration status of the innocent victims of this senseless violence would be beneath even you. But I was wrong.”
Mr Abbott’s comments were a far cry from the stance of local officials.
Sheriff Capers became emotional as he said “I don’t care” if the victims were in Texas legally or illegally.
“My heart is with this eight-year-old little boy, I don’t care if he was here legally, I don’t care if he was here illegally, he was in my county,” he said.
“Five people died in my county. And that’s where my heart is, in my county protecting my people to the best of my ability.”