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  • Writer's picturejohn kepler

Texas mass murder suspect found hiding under pile of laundry

He was found in a private home at his aunt house

Less than an hour after an anonymous tipster came forward on Tuesday, law enforcement officials apprehended Francisco Oropesa, the fugitive believed to have gunned down five people in a cold-blooded massacre last week, according to authorities.

Oropesa, 38, was “caught hiding in a closet underneath some laundry,” according to San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers, who labeled him a “coward” in an evening news conference.

He was found in a private home in Summer Hollow, just east of the tiny Texas city of Cut and Shoot, officials said. Local media reported that the residence belonged to Oropesa’s aunt.

Authorities are weighing criminal charges for those who helped Oropesa evade police for nearly four days, though no other arrests were immediately announced.

A tip to the FBI allowed officers from the U.S. Marshals Service, the Texas Department of Public Safety, and the Border Patrol Tactical Unit to close in on Oropesa. The tipster is expected to receive at least $80,000 in reward money “through the proper channels,” according to Capers.

“Thank you to the person who had the courage to call in this tip,” said Jimmy Paul, an assistant special agent in charge of the FBI in the Houston area. “We always said it wasn’t a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’ he would be captured, and we’re glad this evening was that ‘when’ we've all been waiting for.”

“To the victims and the families, you are at the forefront of our minds. We are delighted that he’s finally in custody.”

More details on the situation were not immediately available.

Oropesa is believed to have killed five people with an AR-15 rifle after a neighbor in Cleveland, Texas approached him and asked him to stop firing a weapon in his front yard, saying the noise might disturb their sleeping baby.

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

More than 250 officers with over a dozen agencies were searching for Oropesa by the start of the week, with authorities divulging precious few details as to the progress of the investigation.

Oropesa’s arrest comes just two days after the FBI admitted that investigators had “zero leads” in the case.

On Tuesday night, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) tweeted in response to the arrest, “Great job by law enforcement.”

His brief statement comes on the heels of a swell of backlash he received for labeling both Oropesa and his victims “illegal immigrants” in a statement announcing an additional $50,000 reward for information in the case. All the victims were originally from Honduras, while Oropesa is reportedly a Mexican national.

Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa was one of many who denounced Abbott for his rheotoric, accusing him of wielding the shooting as a means ““to fear-monger and lie about migrants and the victims’ immigration status.”

After it emerged that at least one of the victims was a permanent resident of the United States, Abbott’s office rapidly backpedaled, blaming the inaccurate information on “federal officials.”

Oropesa, however, is believed to have been in the country illegally, having been deported by immigration officials four times previously.



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