World

Texas man accused of killing five neighbors was deported four times

2023.05.01 16:23


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: An aerial view shows a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) van where a search is being conducted for Francisco Oropeza, 38, who police say shot dead five neighbors in Cleveland, Texas, U.S. April 29, 2023 in a still image from video. ABC

By Ted Hesson and Rich McKay

(Reuters) – A Texas man accused of killing five neighbors after being asked to stop shooting his assault-style rifle because of the noise had been deported from the U.S. four times since 2009, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE (NYSE:)) said on Monday.

The suspect in the shooting in the rural community of Cleveland, Texas, Francisco Oropesa, 38, is a Mexican who was deported in March 2009 after being ordered removed by an immigration judge, ICE said in a statement. He was apprehended and deported again in September 2009, January 2012 and July 2016, ICE said.

Oropesa was convicted of driving while intoxicated in January 2012 in Montgomery County, Texas, and sentenced to jail, ICE added.

Law enforcement had not updated the media on the progress of their search by late afternoon Monday, but the trail had apparently gone cold on Sunday.

“We do not know where he is,” FBI Houston Special Agent in Charge James Smith told reporters on Sunday. “Right now, we have zero leads.”

Officers were going door-to-door in a search that involved more than 250 law enforcement officers from a dozen agencies, said San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers. Officials are offering an $80,000 reward for information that will lead to the suspect’s apprehension.

Capers said on Saturday that the suspect stepped out of his house on Friday night and started shooting off rounds with an AR-15-style rifle in his yard. That was when neighbors in Cleveland, about 45 miles (72 km) north of Houston, asked him to stop because the firing was keeping a baby awake.

Capers said police have recovered the weapon used in the shooting, but the suspect might be armed with a pistol. Police have also recovered other guns in the suspect’s home as well as a cellphone.

A survivor of the shooting, Wilson Garcia, who is the father of the 1-month-old baby, told ABC News affiliate KTRT Houston that he escaped out of a window after several shots almost hit him.

“We asked him to be quiet” because the noise was scaring the baby, he told KTRT.

Instead of stopping, the suspect barged into the home with his rifle and starting shooting.

The victims were identified as Sonia Argentina Guzman, 25; Diana Velazquez Alvarado, 21; Julisa Molina Rivera, 31; Jose Jonathan Casarez, 18; and Daniel Enrique Laso, 8. They were all believed to be living in the house, but were not members of a single family, according to the FBI.

Mass shootings have become commonplace in the United States, with at least 176 so far in 2023, the most at this point in the year since at least 2016, according to the Gun Violence Archive. The nonprofit group defines a mass shooting as any in which four or more people are wounded or killed, not including the shooter.

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