Texas mass shooting suspect Francisco Oropesa arrested after manhunt, officials say

A man suspected in a mass shooting near the Texas town of Cleveland last week that left five people dead — including a 9-year-old boy — has been captured and multiple people were arrested following an extensive manhunt, authorities said.

Following a multi-day search, 38-year-old Francisco Oropesa was arrested at about 7 p.m. local time at a home in the area of Cut and Shoot, Texas, following a tip from the public, Montgomery County Sheriff Greg Capers confirmed in a Tuesday night news conference. 

“He was caught hiding in a closet, underneath some laundry,” Capers said.  

He was booked into the Montgomery County Jail on five counts of murder, Capers said, and was being held on $5 million bond. He was to be transferred to the jail in the San Jacinto County seat of Cold Springs, Capers added. 

The FBI, Border Patrol and U.S. Marshals were involved in the apprehension, the San Jacinto County District Attorney’s Office told CBS News. Multiple arrests were made, said San Jacinto County Chief Deputy Tim Kean on Wednesday morning. The district attorney will work on developing a charge package with a grand jury, Kean added.

Kean did not elaborate on who was arrested but Montgomery County Sheriff Rand Henderson told the Associated Press that Oropeza’s wife, Divimara Lamar Nava, was in custody. Authorities believe Lamar Nava helped hide her husband in the home where he was arrested Tuesday, Henderson told the AP.

Texas Mass Shooting
A law enforcement officer stands at the perimeter set outside the San Jacinto County Jail after the suspected gunman in a mass shooting arrived Tuesday, May 2, 2023, in Coldspring, Texas. Francisco Oropeza, who allegedly shot five of his neighbors, including a child, was captured Tuesday in Montgomery County and transferred to the jail Tuesday night.

David J. Phillip / AP

Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner Troy Miller said in a statement that he’s “incredibly proud” of “agents from the Border Patrol’s elite BORTAC unit” who helped catch Oropesa. “Air and Marine Operations provided overwatch surveillance and aerial support” in the operation, he said.

Jimmy Paul, FBI assistant special agent in charge of the Houston division, told reporters the suspect was found following a tip from the public.

“We’re extremely happy that the citizen had the courage and the bravery to call in that tip,” Paul said. 

Authorities would not disclose if the home where Oropesa was found belonged to friends or family of the suspect. 

Capers previously said the suspect shot his neighbors Friday night after they asked him to stop firing off rounds in his yard.

The attack happened near the town of Cleveland, which is located north of Houston. Cut and Shoot is located about 17 miles west of Cleveland. 

Capers previously reported that the victims were between the ages of 9 and 31 years old, and that all were believed to be from Honduras. All were shot “from the neck up,” he said. They were identified as Sonia Guzman, 28; Diana Velasquez, 21; Obdulia Molina, 31; Jonathan Caceres, 18; and Daniel Enrique Lazo, 9. 

There were a total of 10 people in the home at the time of the shooting, but the other five were not hurt. Three children were found covered in blood in the home, but they were uninjured, Capers said.

Police on Saturday recovered the AR-15-style rifle that Oropesa was believed to have used in the shootings, Capers previously said. Investigators had also found clothes and a cell phone believed to belong to the suspect. 

A Mexican national, Oropesa was ordered removed by a U.S. immigration judge and deported by ICE agents in Houston in 2009. After re-entering the country, he was apprehended and removed again several times over the next seven years, CBS News has learned. Oropesa has a prior conviction in Montgomery County for driving while intoxicated and was sentenced to serve time in jail for the offense.  

Capers also confirmed Tuesday night that a warrant was issued for Oropesa last year after his wife filed a protective order against him. Authorities declined to answer reporters’ questions about the suspect’s wife on Wednesday.

“To the best of my knowledge, we got a warrant for him,” Capers said. “The constable went to serve him in another county, because he left here, and never could make contact with the subject. And then, a few days later, the victim went to the district attorney’s office” in San Jacinto County “and filed a non-prosecution statement.”

Originally published at www.cbsnews.com

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