Neighbors asked a man to stop firing a rifle outside. He then opened fire on them, killing 5 people, a Texas sheriff says
(CNN) — A gunman is still at large after allegedly fatally shooting five people, including an 8-year-old, in a Cleveland, Texas home after a Friday night rampage that started with a noise complaint about gunfire, according to the San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office.
The suspect, identified as 38-year old Francisco Oropeza, was apparently shooting a rifle in his yard when neighbors asked him to stop because a baby was trying to sleep, San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers said. The suspect then opened fire on the neighbors, Capers said.
Authorities found the victims Friday night after receiving a harassment report about 11:30 p.m. local time, the sheriff said.
“The victims, they came over to the fence said, ‘Hey, could you mind not shooting out in the yard. We have a young baby that is trying to go sleep,’” Capers said.
The suspect, who had been drinking, responded, “I’ll do what I want to in my front yard.”
A doorbell camera at the home of the victims at some point captured the suspect approaching with his rifle, Capers said.
Multiple people were shot around the residence, Capers said. Two female victims in a bedroom used their bodies to shield two young children who survived, he added.
“They were trying to take care of them babies and keep them babies alive,” Capers said of the victims.
The victims were shot above the neck at close range — “almost execution style,” according to Capers.
The deceased were identified as Sonia Argentina Gúzman, 25; Diana Velázquez Alvarado, 21; Julisa Molina Rivera, 31; José Jonathan Cásarez, 18; and Daniel Enrique Laso-Guzman, 8.
‘He could be anywhere now’
Investigators tracked Oropeza with his cell phone, but the trail went cold Saturday evening, according to local law enforcement.
“He could be anywhere now,” San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers said during a press conference.
Authorities tracked Oropeza’s cell phone, but found it abandoned, along with articles of clothing, according to the sheriff. “The tracking dogs from Texas Department of Corrections picked up the scent, and then they lost that scent,” Capers said.
The FBI’s Houston field office said on Twitter that it is assisting in the manhunt.
“We consider him armed and dangerous,” said FBI special agent in charge James Smith. “He’s out there, and he’s a threat to the community.”
Authorities said they had received previous reports about the suspect firing a rifle in his yard.
The suspect was known to shoot a .223 rifle, according to Capers. Shell casings were discovered outside the home. At least three weapons were found in the home of the suspect. Investigators said they have spoken with the suspect’s wife.
Authorities said they believe Oropeza is no longer in the area.
A local judge issued an arrest warrant for the suspect.
More than 170 mass shootings in the US this year
There have been at least 174 mass shootings in the US so far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Both CNN and the archive define a “mass shooting” as a shooting that injured or killed four or more people, not including the shooter.
“It’s not just at banks, schools, supermarkets, or churches where Americans fear becoming victims of a mass shooting,” Kris Brown, president of Brady, a gun violence prevention organization, said in a statement.
“People in this country are being gunned down with assault weapons in their own home, and that is the horrifying reality we will continue to live under until our norms and policies change.”
There were 10 people inside the home at the time of the shooting, according to the sheriff.
The victims range in age from 8 to about 40, Capers told reporters earlier Saturday. The 8-year-old victim was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Three people were taken to the hospital, and two were evaluated at the scene and released, according to authorities.
Capers said the victims were from Honduras, and some had arrived at the home from Houston in recent days.
CNN has reached out to authorities for more information.
Cleveland is about an hour northeast of Houston.