Last update: May 03, 2023, 10:20 a.m. HST
Washington, United States
Law enforcement officers wait at the end of a road after a possible sighting of a shooting suspect, Monday, May 1, 2023, near Conroe, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Francisco Oropesa had eluded authorities since Friday’s shooting in the small town of Cleveland, southeast Texas
A man accused of slaughtering five neighbors after they asked him to stop shooting his gun in his yard was captured on Tuesday after a days-long manhunt, law enforcement said from Texas.
Francisco Oropesa had eluded authorities since the shooting Friday in the small town of Cleveland, in southeast Texas.
“We now have this man in custody,” San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers told reporters at a Tuesday night news conference.
“He was caught hiding in a closet under some laundry.”
The 38-year-old Mexican national is accused of attacking his neighbors after they allegedly asked him to stop firing his AR-15 semi-automatic rifle because the noise was preventing a baby from sleeping.
The victims ranged in age from 9 to 31, and several other residents were in critical condition after multiple gunshot wounds.
Capers said surviving family members can “rest easy” now that Oropesa is behind bars.
Authorities deployed hundreds of law enforcement officers to search for the suspect and offered an $80,000 reward for information leading to his capture.
FBI Special Agent Jimmy Paul told reporters Tuesday night that a call to the office’s hotline ultimately led law enforcement to Oropesa, who was arrested north of Houston around 6:45 p.m. local time. (23:45 GMT).
“I just want to thank whoever had the courage and bravery to call the location of the suspect,” he said.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Troy Miller also thanked law enforcement officials for apprehending “the suspect in Friday’s brutal killings in Texas… without incident.”
“Tonight’s actions clearly demonstrate that our agents and officers bring incredible abilities to bear every day as they work to keep our communities safe,” he said in a statement Tuesday evening.
Capers previously described a gruesome scene when authorities arrived at the victims’ home after receiving a call about “harassment” around 11:30 p.m. Friday.
Bodies were strewn from the front door to a bedroom inside, where two dead women were found lying on top of two traumatized children who survived the massacre.
Friday’s attack quickly became the fuel of the acrimonious debate on immigration in the United States.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott drew criticism after calling the suspect “killing five illegal immigrants”, although their immigration status was not immediately clear and Abbott later said that at least one victim “could have been legally in the United States”.
The victims were all from Honduras.
Honduran Deputy Foreign Minister Tony Garcia told AFP that one of the victims would be buried in the United States, while the other four would be repatriated in the coming days, according to the wishes of their families.
Oropesa had been deported from the United States at least four times since 2009, according to CNN.
The Texas killings appeared to be the latest in a string of shootings across the United States spawned by normally mundane interactions: a teenager mistakenly knocking on the wrong door, a cheerleader accidentally getting into the wrong car, someone driving down the wrong driveway, a ball rolling into a neighbor’s yard.
There have been more than 180 mass shootings – defined as four or more people injured or killed – so far this year in the United States, according to Gun Violence Archive.
With more guns than people, the United States has the highest gun death rate of any developed country: 49,000 in 2021, up from 45,000 the previous year.
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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)