SAN JACINTO COUNTY, Texas – KPRC 2 and Click2Houston.com are posting updates on day of the San Jacinto County murder investigation here.
A child is among five dead after a mass shooting in San Jacinto County overnight Friday. The gunman, believed to be the victims’ next-door neighbor Francisco Oropesa, has not yet been caught.
During a Saturday afternoon news conference, authorities released the names of the people killed in the shooting. Sonia Argentina Guzman, 25, Diana Velazquez Alvarado, 21, Julisa Molina Rivera, 31, Jose Jonathan Casarez, 18, and Daniel Enrique Laso, 9, died in the shooting.
San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers said deputies were called to a house around 11 p.m. in the 100 block of Walter Drive in the Trails End Area of Cleveland due to a harassment complaint. While en route, 911 calls began coming in about an active shooter at the location.
According to the sheriff’s office, the suspect, Oropesa, 38, had been drinking. Authorities said the man had been shooting his rifle in his yard, and a neighbor asked if he could stop because they had a baby that was trying to sleep inside. The sheriff’s office said the suspect told the victims he would do what he wanted.
When deputies arrived, four members of a family were found dead in the home. The sheriff’s office said the victims were shot in the head “almost execution style.”
An 9-year-old, who was also at the residence, was flown to a local hospital in a helicopter. The child later died. Authorities said two women who died inside the house appeared as if they tried to cover some of the children which may have saved them. The victims are between eight and 31-years-old.
A heavy police presence remained at the scene Saturday morning as law enforcement looked for the suspect. During a news conference Saturday afternoon, San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers said authorities found a cell phone believed to belong to Oropesa and some articles of clothing during their search.
“The tracking dogs from Texas Department of Corrections picked up the scent and then they lost that scent in the water or whatever. So at this time the area went from 5-6 square miles, it could be as much as 10 or 20 depending on whether or not he crossed the highline wire,” Capers said.
Special Agent in Charge of FBI Houston James Smith said they do not ask the community to take matters into their own hands, but if you see Oropesa or have any information, you are urged to report it.
“He is a threat to the community and we need the community’s help to hopefully locate him soon and take him off the streets tonight,” he said.
The Texas Rangers are aiding in the investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Montgomery County SWAT also assisted.
The FBI is assisting the San Jacinto County Sheriff's Office in the search for the suspect from this morning's shooting in Cleveland, TX. All questions regarding the investigation should be directed to the San Jacinto County SO as it remains the lead investigative agency #HouNews pic.twitter.com/H0z9nTczhd— FBI Houston (@FBIHouston) April 29, 2023
Authorities also found three other children at the scene covered in blood. They were checked by paramedics, taken to the hospital, but officials determined they were not injured. Two other people were evaluated by a medical team, and they were released.
Deputies were able to identify the suspect through video from the victims’ house. The sheriff’s office said the man doesn’t have a previous criminal record, but officials have been called to the residence because the man was shooting his rifle on other occasions.
Law enforcement is still looking for the man. Authorities said a warrant was issued for the alleged shooter for five counts of murder. His bond was set at $5 million.
See KPRC 2′s interview with San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers below:
Cleveland ISD said they are aware of the situation and will be offering crises counseling as needed.
The district also confirmed they have learned one of the victims who died was a student of the district.