A prayer vigil was held Sunday afternoon in memory of a Cleveland student who lost his life in a mass shooting that also claimed the life of his mother and three others. Their deaths have brought together a grieving community.
The vigil was held at Northside Elementary where 9-year-old Daniel Enrique Laso-Guzman attended school. Daniel’s father, Wilson Garcia Ramirez, and two surviving siblings attended the prayer vigil along with other loved ones.
“Daniel was a third-grade student here at Northside. He came every day with smiles and brought so much joy to the teachers, staff and everyone here,” said Cleveland ISD Superintendent Stephen McCanless.
Rev. Carl Williamson, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, spoke about how the crime has shaken the small town of Cleveland to its core.
“A lot of us are here today asking a question: why? This doesn’t make sense. Why would something like this happen around us? I want to tell you this: Everything happens for a reason. The Bible says all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose. Here is one thing I see happening. On days like this, there is no black, or brown, or white. There are hurting people. We want to come together and lean on each other,” said Williamson. “That’s what we are going to do today. We are going to pray and ask God to watch over this family.”
Cleveland ISD Board President Willie Carter followed with a prayer for teachers, staff and administrators of Cleveland ISD, as well as the family of Daniel.
Prayers were also offered for the law enforcement personnel and first responders who have been diligently pursuing the alleged gunman who killed Daniel, his mother, Sonia Argentina Guzman, 25, Diana Velazquez Alvarado, 25, Julisa Molina Rivera, 31, and Jose Jonathan Casarez, 18. The victims were all Hondurans.
Suspect still on the run
The 38-year-old suspect, Francisco Oropeza, is from Mexico. He was a next-door neighbor to the Guzman family in the small community of Trails End west of Cleveland. Around 1 a.m. Saturday, Oropeza, who was known for shooting his rifle in his small yard, was shooting in his yard when someone from the Guzman home asked him to stop shooting as they were tending to their newborn baby, authorities say.
Moments later, Oropeza reportedly showed up at the Guzman home and opened fire on the residents, killing five of the 10 people who were staying at the house. Daniel’s father, as well as his infant brother and young sister, survived the attack, along with another child and adult. His arrival at the house was captured on a Ring doorbell recording, authorities say.
The mass shooting has prompted a multi-agency manhunt that is being led by the San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Greg Capers. The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s field office in Houston is assisting, as are Texas state troopers, Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, local constable offices and the Texas Rangers.
“There are over 250 law enforcement officers from a dozen agencies actively searching for Oropesa. FBI Houston and other local, state and federal agencies will not stop assisting SJCSO until he is captured and justice is brought on behalf of the five victims,” reads a statement from the FBI’s Houston office.
After mistakenly misidentifying Oropeza in a published photo on Sunday, the FBI said that the suspect’s name will be spelled as Oropesa “to better reflect his identity in law enforcement systems.”
Oropeza/Oropesa is considered armed and dangerous. If you see him, do not approach, but instead call 911.
A reward of $80,000 is being offered for information leading to his arrest.
Victims’ families need financial assistance
The families of the victims are trying to have their bodies flown back to their native country of Honduras for burial. Belos is a link to the Go Fund Me account set up to help Wilson Ramirez with these expenses: