Manhunt intensifies for Cleveland Texas shooting suspect: Live updates

The manhunt was expanding Sunday for the suspect in a shooting rampage at a rural Texas home that left five people dead and a community in fear and mourning.

Authorities late Saturday identified the victims as Julisa Molina Rivera, 31; Sonia Argentina Guzman, 25; Diana Velazquez Alvarado, 21; Jose Jonathan Casarez, 18; and Daniel Enrique Laso, 8. Four of the victims died at the scene; Daniel died at a hospital a short time after the shooting Friday night.

Authorities say Francisco Oropeza, 38, was firing his gun in his yard near the town of Cleveland, north of Houston, when neighbors asked him to stop shooting because a young child was trying to sleep. Oropeza dismissed the complaint, saying he had a right to do whatever he wanted on his property.

Someone in the house recorded video of the suspect walking up to the front door with the rifle, and the confrontation quickly escalated, San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers said.

“The next thing they know, he’s walking up the driveway with a rifle in hand,” Capers said.

Capers said there were 10 people in the house at the time of the shooting. Two victims were found draped over children who survived, indicating a heroic effort to save them.

SUSPECT ‘COULD BE ANYWHERE’: Search expands for man accused of killing 5 neighbors in Texas

Details and developments:

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

►All the victims are believed to be from Honduras, and some had moved to Cleveland from Houston a few days ago, Capers said. He said the suspect was from Mexico.

►Honduras Foreign Minister Enrique Reina said on Twitter that the Honduran consulate in Houston was making contact with the families of the victims. Reina demanded the suspect face “the full weight of the law.”

AR-15-style rifle seized by authorities

Authorities were casting a wide net in the search, Capers acknowledging the suspect “could be anywhere now.” Capers said the suspect’s cellphone, abandoned clothes and the AR-15-style rifle used in the shooting were recovered. A search of the suspect’s home turned up more weapons, Capers said.

Officers, dogs and drones were aiding the search. Residents of Cleveland, a town of 7,500 people 45 miles north of Houston, were told to be alert – and to lock their doors.

“Stay in your house. Be vigilant. Keep your eyes open. If you see anything, say something,” Capers said. “This man is very dangerous and he is armed, potentially.”

Capers said his deputies had been to Oropeza’s home at least once before and spoken with him about shooting in the yard, but it was not clear whether any legal action was taken. Capers said firing a gun on your own property can be illegal, but he did not say whether Oropeza had previously broken the law.

Neighbor said suspect once threatened to kill his dog

Rene Arevalo Sr., who lives nearby, said he heard gunshots around midnight – but shrugged it off as a common occurrence. Arevalo said Oropeza once 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.”

Mass killings happening more often in US this year

With at least 18 shootings that left four or more people dead since Jan. 1, mass killings in the U.S. could set a new record this year. according to a database maintained by The Associated Press and USA TODAY, in partnership with Northeastern University. 

Texas has confronted multiple mass shootings in recent years, including the attack at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde last year that left 21 dead; a racist assault at an El Paso Walmart in 2019 that killed 23; and a gunman opening fire at a church in the tiny town of Sutherland Springs in 2017 that left more than two dozen people dead.

Contributing: Mike Snider and Christine Fernando, USA TODAY; The Associated Press

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