A Texas man whose wife and eight-year-old stepson are among the five people killed by his neighbor has said he never imagined there would be a massacre in his home.
Wilson Garcia’s wife, Sonia Argentina Guzman, 25, and eight-year-old stepson, Daniel Enrique Laso, were killed during an argument over noise.
Garcia had asked Francisco Oropesa, 38, to stop firing his shotgun near their home in Cleveland, Texas because their month-old baby was trying to sleep.
Oropesa told Garcia it was his property and he could do whatever he wanted.
He then came to Garcia’s house and shot and killed five people – Garcia’s relatives and three friends who were visiting.
Wilson Garcia said he was stunned that his neighbor of three years would kill five people in his home
Francisco Oropesa, a 38-year-old Mexican, is on the run after he shot and killed five people Friday night in Cleveland, Texas
Oropesa’s victims included Garcia’s eight-year-old stepson, Daniel Enrique Laso (pictured)
‘We had company. We went to make something to eat, the guy came out and he was shooting,” Garcia said ABC 13 News.
“We asked him to be quiet because my baby was scared.”
Garcia told Oropesa, a Mexican national who had been deported several times and was in the country illegally that he would call the police.
“I never thought he would shoot. Then he went from room to room, looking for people,’ Garcia said.
Garcia, originally from Honduras, said Oropesa shot at him several times but missed.
“He couldn’t catch up with me. The bullets hit (everywhere),” Garcia said.
Garcia said he and Oropesa had lived side by side for three years.
‘I’ve never had any problems with him. I can’t believe what he did,” Garcia said.
The FBI confirmed on Sunday that more than 250 law enforcement officers are on the hunt for Oropesa, insisting they will not rest until he is caught.
The FBI initially used the wrong photo in their wanted poster, but corrected it this Sunday.
They also corrected the spelling of his last name, which was originally Oropeza.
A $55,000 reward was increased to $80,000.
“We consider him armed and dangerous,” said James Smith, the lead FBI agent in Houston.
“He’s out there and a threat to the community.”
Smith admitted that they initially published the wrong photo, but corrected it once they realized their mistake.
“In an investigation like this, we get a mountain of information,” he said.
“It was a mistake on our part. We are now 100 percent sure that we have the right photo.’
Oropesa has a large tattoo on the inside of his forearm of what appears to be a female Aztec, wearing a headdress.
FBI agents are seen in the Cleveland, Texas neighborhood where Oropesa shot and killed five people
Five people – the youngest only eight years old – were shot dead in this house on Friday night
A nearby sign warns people that the owner is armed
Honduran flags decorate a tree where the five people were shot
Police found an abandoned cell phone and items of clothing lying around, and Texas Department of Correction sniffer dogs “pitted a scent and then lost that scent in the water,” San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers said. .
“He could be anywhere now,” Capers said.
Oropesa allegedly shot the victims after one of them asked him to stop firing bullets outside his home just before midnight.
The police had previously been alerted to the home for reports of firearms being fired. It’s not illegal to fire guns in your own yard, but it remains unclear why officers didn’t ask for a permit – which he, as an illegal resident, couldn’t have.
The victims have been identified as Sonia Argentina Guzman, 25; Daniel Enrique Laso Guzman, 8; Diana Velázquez Alvarado, 21; Julia Molina Rivera, 31; and Jose Jonathan Casarez, 18.
They were all Honduran nationals who had been shot “from the neck up” in their home, Capers said.
He said two of the victims were found in a bedroom lying above two children in an apparent attempt to protect them.
Capers said there were 10 people in the house, including three children who were not injured.
FBI officials are pictured Sunday as the manhunt continues
San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers is seen wearing the hat next to James Smith, FBI Houston Special Agent in Charge, on Sunday
Some of the home’s residents had moved out earlier this week.
Rene Arevalo Sr., who lives close to Oropesa’s home, said he heard gunshots around midnight but was unperturbed, as gunfire is common in the neighborhood.
“It’s normal what people do here, especially on Fridays after work,” Arevalo said.
“They come home and start drinking in their backyard and shooting out there.”
He told ABC 13 that Oropesa threatened to kill his dog after it was let loose nearby.
His dog chased a pit bull in Oropesa’s truck.
“I tell my wife all the time, ‘Stay away from the neighbors. Don’t argue with them. You never know how they will react,” Arevalo said.
“I tell her that because Texas is a state where you don’t know who has a gun and who will react that way.”