Friday, June 9, 2023

Texas: A man recounts the attack on his wife and son

Wilson Garcia didn’t even tell 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, remained on the run Sunday night 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 louder. 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 any clue about 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 other people were found in 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.

Capers said he hoped the reward money would motivate people to provide information and indicated there were plans to put up informational signs in Spanish. Garcia, his wife, and slain son, and the other three victims – Diana Velazquez Alvarado, 21; Julissa Molina Rivera, 31; and Jose Jonathan Casarez, 18 — were Honduran.

“We tried to bring this family relief from the conclusion of the case,” Capers said.

Asked about response times from officers, the police chief said officers had arrived as quickly as possible and that they had just three people to cover 700 square miles (1,800 square kilometers).

By Sunday the police seal had been removed from Garcia’s house and some people had left flowers.

In the neighborhood, an FBI agent, Texas Department of Public Health troopers, and other agents went door to door. A patrolman stopped a red pickup truck and asked the driver to look inside a trailer before allowing him to continue his journey.

Veronica Pineda, 34, who lives across the street from the suspect, said officers had asked if they could search his property if he was hiding there. He said he feared the attacker had not yet been caught.

“It’s a little scary,” he said. “You never know where you might end up.”

Pineda said he did not know Oropeza well, but that he would sometimes see him riding a horse down the street with his wife and son. He said the family had been living there for five or six years and that neighbors had previously called authorities to complain about the shooting.

García also did not know Oropeza well, although their wives spoke on occasion. Once, he said, the man helped him cut down a tree.

World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Desk
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