Wilson Garcia hadn’t even bothered to ask his next-door neighbor to put down the gunfire. It was late on a Friday night, and Garcia’s one-month-old infant was sobbing. individuals in their rural hamlet north of Houston are used to hearing individuals fire their weapons to vent off anger.
In order to “respectfully” persuade his neighbor to move the shooting away from their home, Garcia and two others reportedly visited the neighbor’s property. “He told us he was on his property, and he could do what he wanted,” Garcia recalled following a memorial in Cleveland, Texas, on Sunday for his son, who was 9 years old and was killed in the subsequent attack.
The 38-year-old suspect, Francisco Oropeza, was still at large as of late Sunday despite the efforts of over 200 law enforcement officers from several different jurisdictions. When Oropeza refused Garcia’s request, he phoned the police. The man fired further shots, which grew increasingly loud.
Garcia could see the man on his front porch in the community of homes on 1-acre lots, but he couldn’t identify what he was doing. Garcia stated that his family made five additional calls to police. The dispatcher repeated the promise of assistance five times.
After Garcia returned from Oropeza’s house, he waited 10-20 minutes before the man began running toward him while reloading. “I told my wife, ‘Get inside. This man has loaded his weapon,” Garcia said. “My wife told me to go inside because ‘he won’t fire at me, I’m a woman.’”
Close to the house, the gunman opened fire. Sonia Argentina Guzman, Garcia’s wife of 25 years, was found dead at the front entrance. There were a total of 15 individuals in the home, including Garcia’s wife and several of her friends who were there for a religious retreat.
According to Garcia, the shooter appeared to be targeting innocent people. Garcia’s 2-year-old daughter and infant son, as well as two ladies who died protecting them, were also killed. One of the ladies, Garcia claimed, encouraged him to jump out of a window “because my children were without a mother and one of their parents had to stay alive to take care of them.”
“I am trying to be strong for my children,” Garcia said, crying. “My daughter sort of understands. It is very difficult when she begins to ask for Mama and for her (older) brother.” On Sunday, police canvassed the neighborhood looking for leads that would identify the perpetrator.
The reward for information leading to Oropeza’s capture has increased to $80,000, thanks to contributions from the state of Texas and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. FBI special agent in charge James Smith told reporters in the little community north of Houston where the shooting occurred at around midnight on Friday, “I can tell you right now, we have zero leads.”
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The AR-15-style gun, which police believe Oropeza used in the shootings, was located and recovered by authorities. After discovering other weapons in his residence, authorities warned that Oropeza should be regarded armed and dangerous.
He probably made his way out on foot. Clothes and a phone were discovered by detectives in the early hours of the hunt as they combed through an area with dense layers of woodland, but tracking dogs lost the scent, according to San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers.
A doorbell camera and a Mexican identification card that Oropeza had been issued allowed officials to positively identify him. He also claimed that police had spoken with the suspect’s wife several times. Capers said he hoped the reward money would encourage individuals to come forward with information, and that billboards will be erected in Spanish to get the message out.
Diana Velazquez Alvarado, 21, Julisa Molina Rivera, 31, and Jose Jonathan Casarez, 18, were the other three victims; Garcia and his wife and children were also Hondurans. “We’re looking for closure for this family,” Capers said. When asked about response times, Capers said his three cops covered a 1,800-square-mile (3,100-square-kilometer) area and did the best they could.
On Sunday, the police took down the crime scene tape from around Garcia’s house, and some visitors sent flowers. An FBI agent, Texas DPS troopers, and other law enforcement authorities were observed canvassing the area. A single officer pulled over a red truck, demanded entry into the trailer it was towing, and then released the driver.
Veronica Pineda, 34, a neighbor who lives just across the street from the suspect’s house, said police had asked permission to inspect her property. She expressed concern that the shooter had not been apprehended. “It is kind of scary,” she said. “You never know where he can be.”
Pineda claimed that she didn’t know Oropeza very well, but that she periodically saw him, his wife, and son riding their horses down the street. She stated that the family had resided in the area for around five or six years and that neighbors had previously reported hearing gunshots.
Even though the two men’s wives kept in touch, neither Garcia nor Oropeza knew each other very well. He claimed that the man had once assisted him in felling a tree.
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