Five people are dead and a suspect is free on Saturday after a late-night argument between neighbors escalated into an “almost execution-like” murder in Texas, authorities say.
Francisco Oropeza, 38, was shooting a gun in his yard late at night when his neighbors asked him to stop, San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers said. The man then went alongside with his own with an AR pistol, opened fire and killed five people, including an 8-year-old child, authorities said.
Capers said “everyone who was shot was shot from the neck up, almost execution style.”
He also said some of the victims appeared to be protecting children when they were shot.
Authorities were using scent dogs and an aerial drone to search for Oropeza after police said he fled to a wooded forest a few miles away.
About 50 to 75 law enforcement officers search the area after
Investigators believe Oropeza was intoxicated at the time of the shooting. The FBI helps with the search, says the agency.
The shooting happened overnight in the city of Cleveland, about 45 miles north of Houston.
According to an update posted to the sheriff’s office’s Facebook page on Saturday morning, a judge has issued an arrest warrant for the suspect and posted $5 million bond.
Capers asked nearby residents to avoid the area, due to a heavy police presence.
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According to Capers:
- There were 10 people in the house – four were confirmed dead at the scene and the 8-year-old was pronounced dead in hospital.
- No one else was hurt
- Three children covered in blood were found in the house but were not injured.
- All the victims are believed to be from Honduras.
Two victims, a man and a woman, were found outside the front door. The killed child was in the front room. The last two victims were found lying on top of two children in a bedroom.
“The Honduran ladies who were laying on top of these children were doing so in an effort to protect the child,” Capers said.
What authorities say happened before the shooting
Family members approached the fence and asked the suspect to stop shooting, Capers said. In response, the suspect told them it was his property, Capers said. A person in the house received video of the suspect walking towards the front door with the rifle, he said.
Authorities have already attended the suspect’s home and “talked to him about the fact that he fired his gun in the yard,” Capers said.
Who are the victims ?
Three of the victims were women and one was a man. Their names have not been released. Capers said the victims range in age from 8 to around 40.
Authorities did not immediately reveal the sex of the deceased child.
Mass shootings are happening more often in the United States this year
With at least 18 shootings that have killed four or more since January 1, mass killings in the United States could set a new record this year.
Recently, 11 people between the ages of 15 and 19 were injured in a shooting in Texas last week after an after-prom party.
Contributor: The Associated Press