Authorities say the Texas man who allegedly killed five people in a shooting Friday night “could be anywhere” and is a dangerous threat to the community.
Francisco Oropeza reportedly shot his neighbors in their home after they asked him to stop shooting in his yard. One of the victims was an eight-year-old boy.
The ongoing search began after Oropeza fled the scene of the attack Friday night. So far, investigators recovered the AR-15 style rifle that was allegedly used in the shootings, as well as clothes and a phone in a nearby wooded area. After having him “cornered” in woods, the tracking dogs lost their scent and the authorities Saturday night widened their search to as far as 20 miles from the shooting.
“He could be anywhere now,” said San Jacinto County Shriff Greg Capers.
Capers said the house had 10 people in it at the time of the shooting, and that the five slain victims ranged in age between 8 and 31 years old. Two victims found in a bedroom shielding two children that were beneath them. Three other children were found covered in blood inside the house, but were uninjured.
Friday night’s attack took place near Cleveland, Texas, in a neighborhood where residents say firing guns in their yards is commonplace.
Oropeza was one of those residents. The 38-year-old was reportedly drinking and firing off shots in his front yard when some of the victims came up to him and asked him to stop.
“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.
Oropeza allegedly responded, “I’ll do what I want to in my front yard.”
Neighbors say they heard shooting take place around midnight. Some didn’t think anything of it since shooting was such a common activity in the neighborhood.
“It’s a normal thing people do around here, especially on Fridays after work,” said Rene Arevalo Sr., who lives a few houses down from the shooting. “They get home and start drinking in their backyards and shooting out there.”
A SWAT team was deployed on the neighborhood following Oropeza’s massacre, where it was determined that he had fled the scene and was at least 10 to 20 miles away by Saturday morning.
The search for Oropeza is ongoing.
“We consider him armed and dangerous,” said James Smith, FBI Houston Special Agent in Charge. “He’s out there, and he’s a threat to the community.”