¡Que Onda Magazine!

Houston's oldest bilingual publication

Officials arrest Texas man accused of killing five of his neighbors

Greg Capers, the San Jacinto county sheriff, said that Francisco Oropeza, 38, was arrested less than 20 miles (32km) from Cleveland. Law enforcement arrested him about an hour after someone called the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s tip line, according to Jimmy Paul, assistant special agent in charge with the FBI’s Houston division.

“They can rest easy now, because he is behind bars,” Capers said of the families of the victims. “He will live out his life behind bars for killing those five.”

He is being held on $5m bond and faces five counts of murder, according to Capers. It is unclear which degree of murder the district attorney’s office will charge Oporeza with.

Oropeza is accused of killing five people, including a nine-year-old boy and two women shielding children, after neighbors asked him to move farther away if he was going to fire an AR-15-style rifle in his yard.

Oropeza then allegedly approached his neighbor’s home and carried out America’s 17th mass killing so far this year.

The victims – all from Honduras – were identified as Diana Velázquez Alvarado, 21; Julisa Molina Rivera, 31; José Jonathan Casarez, 18; Sonia Argentina Guzmán, 25; and Daniel Enrique Laso, 9. Wilson García, Guzmán’s husband, recounted the final moments on Sunday after a memorial for his son.

After Oropeza refused to stop firing in his yard, García and his family called the police five times. Each time, the dispatcher assured him help was on the way. Later, when asked about response time to those calls, Capers told reporters that deputies got there as fast as they could. Just three deputies patrol 700 sq miles (1,813 sq km) in the area.

Not long after Oropeza’s refusal, García could see him approaching his front yard, but did not know what he was doing.

García recalled seeing his neighbor reload his weapon and run toward him. “Get inside,” García recalled telling his wife. “This man has loaded his weapon.”

García recalled Guzmán telling him to get inside while saying: “He won’t fire at me – I’m a woman.” She was at the front door and was the first to die once Oropeza began firing, according to García.

Osmán Velázquez, Diana’s father, said on Tuesday that his daughter had recently gotten residency and had traveled to the United States without documents eight years ago with the help of a sister, who was already living there.

“Her sister convinced me to let her take my daughter. She told me the United States is a country of opportunities and that’s true,” he said. “But I never imagined it was just for this.”

This most recent mass shooting came after other high-profile homicides in southern states including the killing of three students and three staff members at a Christian elementary school in Nashville, Tennessee, a workplace shooting at a bank in Louisville, Kentucky that left five dead, and the killings of four young people in Dadeville, Alabama.

The number of casualties during “active shooter” events reached a five-year high in 2022 with 100 people killed and 213 injured, according to a recently released FBI report.