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Several arrests made in Texas mass shooting after days-long manhunt

Police in Texas say they have arrested the prime suspect in the shooting deaths of five of the man's neighbors, among others.
Several arrests made in Texas mass shooting after days-long manhunt
Posted at 7:00 AM, May 03, 2023

Police say several arrests have been made in connection with a mass shooting in Cleveland, Texas, that left five dead. 

After a days-long manhunt, authorities say 38-year-old Francisco Oropesa was taken into custody on Tuesday in the southeastern Texas city of Cut and Shoot, about 45 miles north of Houston. 

Oropesa was wanted for shooting five of his neighbors after they reportedly asked him to stop shooting a firearm on his property late at night. One of the victims he is accused of shooting and killing with an AR-style rifle was a 9-year-old boy.

In a news conference Wednesday, Chief Deputy Sheriff Tim Kean of San Jacinto County confirmed that arrests were made in addition to Oropesa, but said he couldn't share details yet.

When asked about a specific number of arrests, Kean said, "I'm not going to go into that right now because others are hinging on what's going on right now — so it's in progress." He did say it is fewer than five.

The FBI said it had received a tip that the suspect was hiding in a house in a neighboring county.

Personnel from a tactical unit of the U.S. Border Patrol, the U.S. Marshal Service and the Texas Department of Public Safety came together to search the property.

Authorities found the suspect hiding in a closet under a pile of laundry.

"The tip for the suspect's location came in through the FBI's tip line, and we just want to thank the person who had the courage and bravery to call in the suspect's location," FBI assistant special agent in charge Jimmy Paul said in a press conference.

In terms of the arrests, Kean said "the house is connected," suggesting that additional arrests could be linked to aiding and abetting.

Oropesa's bond will be set Tuesday morning in jail by a judge. Kean said it will be set at $5 million.

Police said they think they know how Oropesa got to his hideaway house, but that is still being investigated.

It was believed the suspect left the scene of the crime on foot, so police had initially been focusing on the area around the crime scene. Reports said police used scent-tracking dogs and drones in their search for Oropesa, searching through thick wooded areas.

Working with the FBI and Texas Rangers along with the Department of Public Safety in Texas, authorities widened their search area, leading them to the city of Cut and Shoot. 

Freyer said between 100 and 200 law enforcement officers along with around 20 separate agencies were working together in the manhunt. 

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott received widespread criticism for using the term "illegal immigrants" to describe the victims in a message offering a reward for information leading to the suspect. 

The victims were named as Daniel Enrique Laso, 9; Jose Jonathan Casarez, 18; Diana Velazquez Alvarado, 21; Julisa Molina Rivera, 31 and Sonia Argentina Guzman, 25.

The alleged shooter has been identified as a Mexican citizen who, according to U.S. authorities, had been deported four times. 

SEE MORE: Neighbors complain about police response in Texas shooting

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