Manhunt for 'armed and dangerous' gunman enters day 2 as officials announce $80K reward for arrest

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Monday, May 1, 2023
Manhunt reaches day 2 with zero leads for 'armed' Cleveland suspect
The search intensifies as officials reach a dead end on Francisco Oropesa's whereabouts, but officials hope an $80K reward for information leading to his arrest can help.

CLEVELAND, Texas (KTRK) -- An $80,000 reward has been offered for any information that leads to the arrest of Francisco Oropesa, who is accused of killing five people, including a child- at a Cleveland, Texas, home after neighbors asked him to stop firing his rifle outdoors, officials said.

"We consider him armed and dangerous," FBI Houston Special Agent in Charge James Smith said. "He's out there, and he's a threat to the community."

Oropesa, 38, fled after the shooting Friday night that left five people dead, including a third-grade boy. San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers said Saturday evening that authorities had widened the search to as far as 20 miles from the scene of the shooting.

Investigators found clothes and a phone while combing a rural area that includes dense layers of the forest, but tracking dogs lost the scent, Capers said.

Police recovered the AR-15-style rifle that Oropesa allegedly used in the shootings, but authorities were not sure if he was carrying another weapon, the sheriff said.

In a press conference on Sunday, San Jacinto County and FBI officials gave an update as the manhunt for Oropesa reached a second day.

"We don't know where he is. We have zero leads," Sheriff Greg Capers said.

According to officials, over 200 officers are assisting in finding Oropesa and are going door-to-door and searching for any video.

It is believed that Oropesa has "contacted friends," but officials are unsure who they are, Capers said.

The FBI offered $25,000, and multi-county Crime Stoppers offered $5,000, with Texas Governor Greg Abbott adding $50,000, for a combined $80,000 reward for any information that leads up to Oropesa's arrest.

"Our hearts go out to the families and loved ones of the five victims that were taken in this senseless act of violence," Abbott said. "I continue working with state and local officials to ensure they have all available resources to respond to this horrific crime. I thank the men and women in law enforcement who are tirelessly working to ensure this criminal is caught and brought to justice."The Governor also directed DPS Director Steve McCraw and Texas Military Department (TMD) Adjutant General Thomas Suelzer to alert Operation Lone Star soldiers and troopers to be on the lookout for the criminal and any attempts to flee the country after taking the lives of five people.

On Sunday, FBI Houston posted in a now-deleted tweet "new photos" of Oropesa that were allegedly taken in August 2022.

"An incorrect image of Francisco Oropesa was mistakenly disseminated earlier today. That image has since been removed from FBI social media accounts," the FBI told Eyewitness News in a statement. "The San Jacinto Sheriff's Office, FBI, and other local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies continue the fugitive investigation to find Oropesa. This photo, the one we have been using, is the correct one."

After receiving a high volume of information from other agencies, Caper said at the press conference that it was a mistake. He also mentioned that they have talked to the man who was wrongly identified.

Authorities did say Oropesa does have a large tattoo of what appears to be a female Aztec.

In an update, FBI Houston released new images, again, of Oropesa.


San Jacinto County and FBI officials said there is now an $80,000 reward for any information that leads to the arrest of Franciso Oropesa.

SEE ALSO: Officials reach cold trail after recovering items believed to be Cleveland gunman's during manhunt

The attack happened near the town of Cleveland, north of Houston, on a street where some residents say neighbors often unwind by firing off guns.

Capers said the victims were believed to be from Honduras. All were shot "from the neck up," he said.

The attack was the latest act of gun violence in what has been a record pace of mass shootings in the U.S. so far this year, some of which have also involved semiautomatic rifles.

The mass killings have played out in a variety of places - a Nashville school, a Kentucky bank, a Southern California dance hall, and now a rural Texas neighborhood inside a single-story home.

Capers said there were 10 people in the house - some of whom had just moved there earlier in the week - but that no one else was injured. He said two of the victims were found in a bedroom lying over two children in an apparent attempt to shield them.

"A total of three children found covered in blood in the home were taken to a hospital but found to be uninjured", Capers said.

FBI spokesperson Christina Garza said investigators do not believe everyone at the home were members of a single family. 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.

The confrontation followed the neighbors walking up to the fence and asking the suspect to stop shooting rounds, Capers said. The suspect responded by telling them that it was his property, Capers said, and one person in the house got a video of the suspect walking up to the front door with the rifle.

The shooting took place on a rural pothole-riddled street where single-story homes sit on wide 1-acre lots and are surrounded by a thick canopy of trees. A horse could be seen behind the victim's home, while in the front yard of Oropesa's house a dog and chickens wandered.

SEE ALSO: Surviving homeowner says he 'can't believe it' following gunman's rampage in Cleveland, Texas

"I never thought that he would shoot. Then he went room to room, looking for people", a survivor said of the rampage that killed his wife and son.

Rene Arevalo Sr., who lives a few houses down, said he heard gunshots around midnight but didn't think anything of it.

"It's a normal thing people do around here, especially on Fridays after work," Arevalo said. "They get home and start drinking in their backyards and shooting out there."

Capers said his deputies had been to Oropesa's home at least once before and spoken with him about "shooting his gun in the yard." It was not clear whether any action was taken at the time. At a news conference Saturday evening, the sheriff said firing a gun on your own property can be illegal, but he did not say whether Oropesa had previously broken the law.

Capers said the new arrivals in the home had moved from Houston earlier in the week, but he said he did not know whether they were planning to stay there.

Across the U.S. since Jan. 1, there have been at least 18 shootings that left four or more people dead, according to a database maintained by The Associated Press and USA Today, in partnership with Northeastern University. The violence is sparked by a range of motives: murder-suicides and domestic violence; gang retaliation; school shootings; and workplace vendettas.

RELATED: Leaders hold vigil to honor 5 people shot to death in SE Texas in place of canceled fundraiser

Texas has confronted multiple mass shootings in recent years, including last year's attack at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde; a racist attack at an El Paso Walmart in 2019; and a gunman opening fire at a church in the tiny town of Sutherland Springs in 2017.

Republican leaders in Texas have continually rejected calls for new firearm restrictions, including this year over the protests of several families whose children were killed in Uvalde.

A few months ago, Arevalo said Oropesa threatened to kill his dog after it got loose in the neighborhood and chased the pit bull in his truck.

"I tell my wife all the time, 'Stay away from the neighbors. Don't argue with them. You never know how they're going to react,'" Arevalo said. "I tell her that because Texas is a state where you don't know who has a gun and who is going to react that way."

A GoFundMe was created to raise money for the bodies of Sonia Argentina Gúzman and Daniel Enrique Laso-Guzman to be sent back to their native Honduras.

The woman's husband and the child's father created the fundraiser.

Honduran officials posted to Twitter on Sunday, saying they are in contact with the victims' relatives.

"The Consulate in Houston is already making contact with the families, to whom we reiterate our solidarity on behalf of the Government of the President @XiomaraCastroZ

in case it is necessary to repatriate the remains. In the same way with the authorities to know about the investigation," the translated tweet said.

Editor's note: Previous reports spell the suspect's last name "Oropeza." In an update on Sunday, FBI Houston said going forward, the suspect's last name will be spelled "Oropesa" to better reflect his identity in law enforcement systems.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

RELATED: Deputies warned Francisco Oropesa, Cleveland mass shooting suspect, about shooting from his yard