A Texas man went next door with a rifle and began shooting his neighbors, killing an 8-year-old and four others inside the house, after the family asked him to stop firing rounds in his yard because their baby was trying to sleep, authorities said Saturday.
San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers told reporters at the scene that authorities were searching for 38-year-old Francisco Oropeza following the overnight shooting in the town of Cleveland, about 45 miles north of Houston. By late Saturday morning, Capers said authorities were using scent-tracking dogs and an overhead drone in the search for Oropeza. He said Oropeza used an AR-style rifle in the shooting.
“Everyone that was shot was shot from the neck up, almost execution-style,” Capers said during an earlier news conference at the scene.
He said in a midday update Saturday that the suspect faces five murder charges and is still at large. Judge Wells has issued an arrest warrant and a $5 million dollar bond. The Texas Rangers are on the scene aiding with the investigation, Capers said in a social media post.
Capers said there were 10 people in the house and that no one else was injured. He said two of the victims, all believed to be from Honduras, were found laying over two children inside.
“The Honduran ladies that were laying over these children were doing it in such an effort as to protect the child,” according to Capers, who said a total of three blood-covered children were found in the home but were determined to be uninjured after being taken to a hospital.
Capers said two other people were examined at the scene and released.
The confrontation followed family members walking up to the fence and asking the suspect to stop shooting rounds, Capers said. The incident started as a harassment call to the sheriff’s office just after 11:30 p.m. Friday night at a home on Walter Drive in the Trails End subdivision, CBS Houston KHOU-TV reported.
According to Capers, one person in the house got a video of the suspect walking up to the front door with the rifle.
Three of the victims were women and one was a man. Their names were not released. Capers said the victims were between the ages of 8 and about 40 years old.
Authorities have previously been to the suspect’s home, according to Capers. “Deputies have come over and spoke with him about him shooting his gun in the yard,” he said.
Capers said some of those in the house had just moved from Houston earlier in the week, but he did not know whether they were planning to stay there.
As the manhunt continued Saturday, Capers urged area residents to remain vigilant. The FBI is assisting the San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office in the search for the suspect from this morning’s shooting.
“Just stay in your house. Be vigilant. Keep your eyes open. If you see anything, say something. Make sure you call 911. Call the sheriff’s office with the picture that we have provided. This man is very dangerous and he is armed potentially,” he told CBS Houston station KHOU.
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; and workplace vendettas.
Texas has confronted multiple mass shootings in recent years, including last year’s attack at Robb Elementary School in; a racist attack in 2019; and a gunman opening fire at a church in the tiny town of in 2017.
A candlelit prayer vigil will begin at 4:30 p.m. local time, CBS News has confirmed. No victim families are expected to attend.
Republican leaders in Texas have rejected calls for new firearm restrictions, including this year over the protests of several families whose children were killed in Uvalde.