Manhunt for accused killer of five continues in San Jacinto County

San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers (right) is leading the hunt for Francisco Oropeza, who is believed to have gunned down five people in the Cleveland area early Saturday morning. Pictured with him are SJCSO Lt. Ray Bowen and Liberty County Pct. 3 Commissioner David Whitmire during the manhunt on Saturday.

Three days after the brutal murder of five people in the Cleveland area, the manhunt for accused killer Francisco Oropeza continues. A command center has been established at the 105 Speedway off the 1200 block of Fostoria Road, where 200-plus law enforcement officers from a dozen agencies gather for briefings and meals, and to coordinate their efforts to find Oropeza.

While the entire community and nation wants to see Oropeza brought to justice, nobody wants to catch Oropeza more than the law enforcement officers actively looking for him, said San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers.

“I have 225 people looking for him. We want to find this coward and we will be the first to say when we’ve found him. We want him just as much as anyone else,” said Capers. “We have the smartest of the smart people in law enforcement, not only here, but across the nation, helping us find him. We are doing the best we can. So far, he has eluded us.”

Law enforcement agencies have searched for Oropeza by thermal imaging cameras on helicopters, through the use of drones and on foot with the help of scent-tracking dogs. They have staged in various parts of the Trails End neighborhood and the surrounding area and have continued patrols since this ordeal began.

Francisco Oropeza

Capers confirmed that he has learned that Oropeza was deported from the United States four times previously, but he always reentered the country illegally.

He also confirmed that the weapon believed to have been used in the killing – an AR 223 – was recovered at the home of the victims on Walter Street in the Trails End Subdivision. Oropeza was a neighbor of the five victims, including the youngest – 9-year-old Daniel Enrique Laso-Guzman, a third-grade student at Northside Elementary in Cleveland. Enrique’s mom, Sonia Guzman, 25, was among the victims. She died while trying to protect her 4-year-old daughter and newborn son. The Guzmans and the three other victims – Diana Velazquez Alvarado, 25, Julisa Molina Rivera, 31, and Jose Jonathan Casarez, 18. All were Hondurans living in the United States.

All of the victims were shot “execution style,” above the neck and at close range, authorities say.

Five other people that were inside the home on the morning of the attack were not seriously injured.

When asked if it is believed that Oropeza is still armed, Capers said that is a safe assumption.

“I would consider him to be armed and dangerous,” the sheriff said.

As to whether or not Oropeza has fled to Mexico, Capers does not believe that to be the case. As long as it is still believed he is hiding out in the area, law enforcement personnel will continue painstakingly tracking down each lead that comes in.

“We just want justice for the victims’ families,” Capers said.

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