Wilson Garcia didn’t even ask his neighbor to stop shooting.
People in her rural town north of Houston are used to gunning down the comfort, but it was late on a Friday night and Garcia had a crying 1-month-old son.
So he and two men, he explained, “respectfully” went to his neighbor’s house and asked him to shoot a little further from his house.
“He told us it was on his property and he could do whatever he wanted,” Garcia said Sunday in Cleveland, Texas, after a vigil for his 9-year-old son, who was killed shortly after the attack.
The suspect, Francisco Oropeza, 38, was still on the run this Monday despite a search by more than 200 police officers from various forces.
Garcia called the police after Oropeza declined his request. The guy fired some more, and it was now faster. In a neighborhood where plots are 1 acre (4,000 m²), Garcia could see the man on his front porch, but could not understand what he was doing.
Garcia said his family kept calling the police, five calls total. On five occasions, the answering person assured me that help would be on the way.
And then, between 10 and 20 minutes after Garcia had returned from Oropeza’s house, the man started running toward him as he was reloading.
“I told my wife ‘Come inside. This man has his gun loaded,'” Garcia said. “My wife told me to go in because ‘he won’t shoot me, I’m a woman.'”
The youth reached home and started firing. Garcia’s wife, Sonia Argentina Guzmán, 25, was at the front door and was the first to die.
There were a total of 15 people in the house, many of them friends who had come to attend religious retreats with Garcia’s wife. Garcia said the man seemed intent on killing everyone.
The dead included García’s son, Daniel Enrique Lasso, and two women who died protecting García’s child and two-year-old daughter. Garcia said that one of the women told her to jump out the window “because my children lost their mother and one of their fathers had to live to take care of them.”
“I try to be strong for my kids,” Garcia said through tears. “My daughter gets it. It’s very difficult when he starts asking about Mom and his (older) brother.”
On Sunday, the police went door-to-door hoping to get some clue to reach the accused. Gov. Greg Abbott offered a $50,000 reward, which was increased to $80,000 for any information about Oropeza’s whereabouts after contributions from local officials and the FBI.
James Smith, the FBI special agent in charge of the case, said during a press conference, “I can tell you now we have zero leads.”
Police recovered the AR-15 rifle used by Oropeza in the shooting. Authorities weren’t sure Oropeza was carrying more weapons after others were found at his home but said he should be considered armed and dangerous.
He is likely to have fled the area on foot. County Police Chief Greg Capers said that in the first hours of the search, investigators found clothing and a cell phone in a heavily wooded area, but the dogs lost their trail.
Authorities were able to identify Oropeza from camera footage at the door, as well as an identification card issued by Mexican authorities for citizens living outside the country. He said the police have also questioned the suspect’s wife on several occasions.
Garcia, his murdered wife and son, and the other three victims – Diana Velazquez Alvarado, 21, Julisa Molina Rivera, 31, and Jose Jonathan Casarez, 18 – were Honduran.