5 dead in Texas 'execution-style' shooting, suspect armed with AR-15 is on the loose

All victims were shot from the neck up "almost execution style," police said.

Five people are dead after being shot in a Texas home by a suspect armed with an AR-15 style rifle in a horrific series of "execution style" shootings, police said.

A manhunt is currently underway for the suspect, identified by the San Jacinto County Sheriff's Office as 38-year-old Francisco Oropeza. The FBI's Houston Field Office said it is assisting in the ongoing search.

A judge has issued an arrest warrant for Oropeza and assigned a $5 million bond. He is believed to have fled the county and is considered armed and dangerous, authorities said.

PHOTO: Francisco Oropeza, suspect in the mass shooting in Cleveland, Texas, on April 29, 2023, is shown in this photo released by the San Jacinto County Sheriff's Office.
Francisco Oropeza, suspect in the mass shooting in Cleveland, Texas, on April 29, 2023, is shown in this photo released by the San Jacinto County Sheriff's Office.
San Jacinto County Sheriff's Office

Neighbors asked suspect to stop shooting his gun in the yard: Sheriff

Police said the incident occurred at 11:31 p.m. local time on Friday when officials from the San Jacinto County Sheriff's Office received a call about harassment in the town of Cleveland, about 55 miles north of Houston.

When authorities arrived at the location, they found several victims shot at the property, police said. Three of the deceased were females and two were males, including the youngest, an 8-year-old boy.

Two female victims were discovered in the bedroom lying on top of two surviving children, authorities told ABC News.

Three minors were located uninjured, but covered in blood. They were transported to a local hospital.

PHOTO: In this screen grab from a video, law enforcement personnel are shown at the scene of a mass shooting in Cleveland, Texas, on April 29, 2023.
In this screen grab from a video, law enforcement personnel are shown at the scene of a mass shooting in Cleveland, Texas, on April 29, 2023.
KTRK

Police said they believe the massacre occurred after neighbors asked the suspect to stop shooting his gun in the front yard because there was a baby trying to sleep.

"My understanding is that the victims, they came over to the fence and said, 'Hey could [you not do your] shooting out in the yard? We have a young baby that's trying to go to sleep,' and he had been drinking and he says, 'I'll do what I want to in my front yard,'" San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers told KTRK.

Capers told KTRK the case went from harassment to a shooting very quickly. He said that authorities believed some of the victims were trying to shield their children -- with bodies found on top of children who were unharmed.

"In my opinion, they were actually trying to take care of the babies and keep them babies alive," Capers told KTRK.

Police said the shootings all took place in one home, the victims were all from Honduras and that four of the victims were declared dead at the scene. The fifth victim -- an 8-year-old boy -- was taken to a hospital and has since been pronounced dead.

Capers told KTRK all of the victims were shot from the neck up "almost execution style."

Capers said footage from a Ring doorbell at the victims' house shows the shooter entering the home where the shooting took place with a weapon. The suspect was believed to be intoxicated at the time, authorities said.

Suspect believed to be armed

FBI Agent James Smith with the Houston Field Office said the suspect is considered armed and dangerous and a "threat to the community."

"We're not going to stop until he we arrest him and put him into custody," Smith told reporters during a Saturday evening press briefing.

Capers said they believe they have the weapon used in the attack and that they do not know if the suspect is carrying a smaller weapon. Amid the manhunt they found his cell phone "abandoned" and several articles of clothing, but search dogs have lost his scent and "he could be anywhere now," Capers said.

Deputies describe Oropeza as a Hispanic man who is 5-foot-8. He was last seen wearing jeans, a black shirt and work boots. Investigators said he has a goatee and short black hair, according to KTRK.

Police said the suspect "has been known to shoot his .223 out in his front yard, which is evident by the shell casings that are laying in the front yard."

Capers said the shooter used a .223 rifle in the shooting. Capers could not confirm how many times his deputies had been called to the shooter's property previously.

PHOTO: In this screen grab from a video, the scene of a shooting is shown in Cleveland, Texas, on April 29, 2023.
In this screen grab from a video, the scene of a shooting is shown in Cleveland, Texas, on April 29, 2023.
KTRK

Residents are being told to "stay inside [and] stay clear" of the crime scene until the investigation has concluded, but do not believe the suspect, a Mexican national, is in the area.

"We are getting closer to him every minute of every hour but we know who he is," Capers told KTRK.

Police found two other weapons in the house in a search following the shooting. Capers also confirmed they are interviewing the shooter's wife.

'I can't believe what he did,' survivor says

PHOTO: In this screen grab from a video, law enforcement personnel and first responders are shown at the scene of a mass shooting in Cleveland, Texas, on April 29, 2023.
In this screen grab from a video, law enforcement personnel and first responders are shown at the scene of a mass shooting in Cleveland, Texas, on April 29, 2023.
KTRK

Ten people were in the home when police arrived on scene. Capers believes they lived together, with four to five of them just moving into the home from Houston within the last three or four days.

The victims were identified as Sonia Argentina Guzman, 25; Diana Velazquez Alvarado, 21; Julisa Molina Rivera, 31; Jose Jonathan Casarez, 18; and Daniel Enrique Laso Guzman, 8.

The other five people in the home were unharmed, authorities said.

PHOTO: Law enforcement personnel are shown at the scene of a mass shooting in Cleveland, Texas, on April 29, 2023.
Law enforcement personnel are shown at the scene of a mass shooting in Cleveland, Texas, on April 29, 2023.
Scott Engle

Wilson Garcia, who owned the home, told KTRK that his wife and 8-year-old son were among the victims of the shooting.

"I can't believe what he did. He came shooting inside the house, it's horrible, it's appalling," Garcia told KTRK in Spanish.

Garcia told the station he moved in three years ago and "never had a problem" with his neighbor until Friday. Garcia said they were preparing a meal when the suspect began shooting on his property.

"We asked him not to shoot there because my baby was scared," Garcia said.

Garcia said they told the suspect they were going to call the police when the mass shooting started.

Garcia said his wife was shot first while standing on the porch, then the gunman "went from room to room looking for people." The two other women killed were protecting his baby while he was in a crib, Garcia said.

"He was in the crib but nothing happened to him," Garcia said.

Garcia said he ran from the house and the suspect chased after him, firing about five times but missed.

One of the victims attended the Cleveland Independent School District.

"Cleveland Independent School District is heartbroken learning the news concerning the death of one of our students. At this time, we cannot elaborate with information due to the ongoing investigation of the horrendous tragedy," the school district said in a statement.

'There's always shootings'

Nearby resident, Veronica Pineda, spoke with KTRK and said she has grown accustomed to neighbors shooting firearms in the area.

"There's always shootings, there's always shooting," she said to KTRK. "There's always people calling the cops and there's nothing being done."

She said that neighbors would frequently shoot firearms on weekends and holidays and that the sound of gunshots overnight was normal.

"We were in bed and my kids -- I have two babies -- they got scared, and we're like, 'It's normal they're always shooting,'" she told the station.

She said she did not know the alleged shooter well but she would wave to him when he would pass by with his horses.

The San Jacinto County Democratic Party announced it will be canceling a fundraiser scheduled for Saturday evening to hold a prayer vigil for the victims of the shooting instead.

"San Jacinto County is devastated by the horrific events that happened last night," San Jacinto County Democratic Party chair John Michael Adams said in a statement. "We've decided that it no longer made sense to hold our annual fundraiser tonight, but still felt we needed to come together as a community -- however we could -- and send our love and prayers to the loved ones of the victims of this senseless shooting."

ABC News' Jessica Gorman and Nicholas Kerr contributed to this report.

Related Topics

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events