A rural town north of Houston is in mourning after a shooting that left five people dead, including a 9-year-old boy. The incident began when Wilson Garcia respectfully asked his neighbor, Francisco Oropeza, to shoot farther away from his home, where he and others were caring for a month-old baby. Oropeza refused, and shortly afterward, he began firing his weapon towards Garcia’s home. Despite calling the police five times, Garcia and his family were unable to get help in time to prevent the tragedy.
“I told my wife, ‘Get inside. This man has loaded his weapon,’” Garcia recounted. “My wife told me to go inside because ‘he won’t fire at me, I’m a woman.’” Oropeza proceeded to walk up to the home and began firing. Garcia’s wife, Sonia Argentina Guzman, 25, was at the front door and was the first to die. Among the dead were also Garcia’s son, Daniel Enrique Laso, and two women who died while shielding Garcia’s baby and 2-year-old daughter.
“I am trying to be strong for my children,” Garcia said, crying. “My daughter sort of understands. It is very difficult when she begins to ask for mama and for her (older) brother.”
Police are still searching for Oropeza, who fled the scene and is currently at large. The FBI, local officials, and Governor Greg Abbott have put up $80,000 in reward money for information leading to his whereabouts. Although Oropeza’s AR-15-style rifle has been recovered, authorities are unsure whether he is carrying another weapon after others were found in his home. He should be considered armed and dangerous.
Gov. Greg Abbott put up $50,000 in reward money and local officials and the FBI also chipped in, bringing the total to $80,000 for any information about Oropeza’s whereabouts.
“I can tell you right now, we have zero leads,” James Smith, the FBI special agent in charge, told reporters while again asking the public for tips in the rural town north of Houston where the shooting took place just before midnight Friday.
Sheriff Greg Capers is hoping the reward money will motivate people to provide information, and there are plans to put up billboards in Spanish to spread the word. Meanwhile, residents are still in shock, and many are fearful that Oropeza may be hiding nearby. “It is kind of scary,” said Veronica Pineda, who lives across the street from the suspect’s home. “You never know where he can be.”
Garcia, his slain wife and son, and the other three victims, Diana Velazquez Alvarado, Julisa Molina Rivera, and Jose Jonathan Casarez, were from Honduras. Capers said, “We’re looking for closure for this family.”