SAN JACINTO COUNTY, Texas — Investigators hope that a large reward will help them find the man they said shot and killed five people in San Jacinto County.
During a news conference on Sunday afternoon, officials with the San Jacinto County Sheriff's Office and the FBI announced that $80,000 is being offered as reward money to anyone who helps them find and arrest 38-year-old Francisco Oropeza.
As for the reward, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the state would be providing $50,000. San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers said multi-county Crime Stoppers was pitching in $5,000. The FBI announced that it was putting in another $25,000 to get the total to $80,000
Special Agent Smith with the Houston Office of the FBI said they had not received tips about Oropeza's whereabouts, which is why they increased the reward.
"We do now know where he is. We don't have any tips right now as to where he may be," Smith said.
Capers said they've been going door-to-door looking for any information that can help them find the suspect. He said there are now about 200 law enforcement members searching for him, and more are on the way.
Anyone with information should call 1-800-FBI-TIPS. The phone line is available 24/7.
During the news conference on Sunday, Smith was asked about an incorrect photo the FBI Houston tweeted of the suspect on Sunday, then pulled off social media with an explanation.
"On an investigation like this, we're receiving information from a whole slew of agencies and citizens," he said. "It was a mistake on our side of it. We identified it. We acted quickly to remove that photo."
Smith also said that he spoke to the person in the wrong photo, but didn't provide any additional details of the conversation.
*Editor's note: The FBI changed the spelling of the suspect's last name from Oropeza, saying on Twitter, "Going forward, the subject's last name will be spelled "Oropesa" to better reflect his identity in law enforcement systems."
On Friday night around 11:30 p.m., authorities got a call about a harassment incident at a home on Walter Drive in the Trails End subdivision.
According to Capers, 10 people were inside the home at the time of the shooting and multiple people were shot.
Investigators said the shooter is Oropeza. They said he was confronted by neighbors and asked to stop shooting his gun because they had a young child who was trying to sleep. Oropeza responded by saying he would do what he wants on his property.
"The next thing they know, he's walking up the driveway with a rifle in hand," Capers said.
According to Capers, Oropeza escaped the area after the shooting. Several guns were found at his home by a SWAT team.
Officials identified the victims Saturday afternoon as the following:
- Sonia Guzmán, 28
- Diana Velásquez, 21
- Obdulia Molina, 31
- Jonathan Cáceres, 18
- Daniel Enrique Lazo, 9
It's unclear how or if the victims are related but they were all living under the same roof, authorities said.
According to investigators, four of the victims were pronounced dead at the scene and 9-year-old Daniel died at an area hospital. Others were found covered in blood inside the home, but none of them were injured, according to authorities.
Editor's note: Authorities initially said Daniel Lazo was 8. There have been discrepancies in the spelling and ages of the victims. We are using names and ages supplied to us by the Honduran government on Monday, May 1. Previous reporting used spelling and ages supplied earlier in the investigation by the Houston office of the FBI.
At one point, authorities thought Oropeza was cornered in a wooded area near the scene but later said the search is still ongoing.
Investigators said they don't have any leads as to where Oropeza could be. They said they're going door-to-door to try to find out if anyone knows anything.
They said they're not even sure if Oropeza is still in the area but they're hoping that the reward money serves as an incentive for someone to come forward.
Officials said they found Oropeza's phone, abandoned clothes and the rifle used in the shooting. They believe he may still be armed and should be considered dangerous. The sheriff said they are using dogs and drones to search for him.
Residents in the area said it's common for people in the area to shoot guns on their property.
"There is a lot of people here that like to shoot guns. It was just a matter of time before sometime like this happens," one resident said.
Capers said Oropeza was known to shoot his rifle in the front yard and that they've had numerous calls to the area. The sheriff's office said he has been charged with five counts of murder.