CLEVELAND, Texas – Francisco Oropeza was firing his gun in his yard again on Friday night, waking up Wilson Garcia’s toddler with a loud bang.
So Mr. Garcia said he went to his neighbor and asked if he could stop by.
Mr. Oropeza, whom officials said had been drinking, said no. His yard, he said, his rules.
Mr Garcia, 30, warned he would call the police. But after Mr. Oropeza, 38, went back to his home, he re-emerged with an AR-15.
He walked to Mr. Garcia’s cream-colored home, where he shot and killed Mr. Garcia’s wife, who had called the police and was standing near the entrance.
The rampage continued inside Mr Garcia’s home, where authorities said Mr Oropeza fatally shot four other people “almost execution-style”.
“He wanted to kill us all for not leaving any evidence,” Mr. Garcia said in an interview.
The episode in Cleveland, Texas, which is about 45 miles northeast of Houston, stunned a nation already weary of a shooting set off by mundane mix-ups and interactions like a neighborly complaint.
this month, A 16-year-old girl in Missouri who rang the wrong doorbell was shot by a homeowner, a 20-year-old woman in upstate New York was fatally shot after driving into the wrong driveway, and two cheerleaders in Texas were shot in a row after getting into the wrong car. Was given
The shooting on Friday night triggered a search for the gunman, who may have fled the area and remained at large as of Saturday evening.
Three others were taken to the hospital after the shooting that happened around 11.30 pm. Officials said the victims were all from Honduras.
The San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office said four people died at the scene and a fifth person died at the hospital.
The FBI identified the victims as: Mr. Garcia’s wife, Sonia Guzman, 25; Diana Velazquez Alvarado, 21; Juliza Molina Rivera, 31; Jose Jonathan Casarez, 18; and Daniel Enrique Lesso, 8. But there were conflicting reports on Saturday. Earlier in the day, officials said a 15-year-old girl was among the victims.
San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers said in a phone interview on Saturday that multiple law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, were searching homes and wooded areas on foot and with drones to find Mr. Oropeza.
sheriff capers told reporters Mr. Oropeza was known to “frequently” fire an AR-15 in his front yard.
Mr. Garcia, who moved to the United States from Honduras three years ago, said he “never had a problem” with Mr. Oropeza, who once helped Mr. Garcia fell a tree.
Mr. Garcia said that after Mr. Oropeza shot his wife, the gunman followed him. Mr. Garcia escaped through a window and ran outside.
“I thought he was going to follow me,” he said. “But when he couldn’t catch me, he went back home to finish them off.”
Mr Garcia said he had gone to a family member’s home to hide. But then he returned to his home.
“I came back for my two children,” he said. “He was hiding in the closet. The two women who guarded him when he died – they were hugging him.”
According to Carlos Ramirez, Mr Garcia’s brother, the two women who were killed were rescuing a 6-week-old baby. The boy and a 3-year-old girl, who survived.
Ramiro Guzmán, the brother of Mr. Garcia’s wife, said in a phone interview that Mr. Garcia told Mr. Oropeza to stop shooting near their home, sensed danger, and told his sister to run away.
Ms. Guzmán told him that she did not think Mr. Oropeza would hurt her and stayed. But seconds later, the gunman shot him and quickly moved to the living room where he fatally shot Mr. Guzmán’s nephew.
Mr. Guzmán said he quickly grabbed his wife and 6-month-old son and hid in a closet as he heard the gunman continue to shoot family members. He tried calling the police, but service was poor, so he called his aunt and asked her to call law enforcement.
“I couldn’t get hold of the police,” Mr. Guzmán said in tears. “And he was killing my family.”
First assistant district attorney Robert Freire, of the criminal district attorney’s office in San Jacinto County, said there were 10 people in the house, although Mr. Ramirez said there were 12.
Sheriff Capers said, “Everybody who was shot was shot over the neck, almost execution-style.”
Honduran Foreign Minister Enrique Reina said Twitter The Honduran consulate was in contact with the authorities in Texas and was monitoring the situation.
“We demand that the full weight of the law be applied against those responsible for this crime,” he wrote in Spanish.
Susan Ard, a spokeswoman for the Cleveland Independent School District, said the district was aware of one victim, a third-grade boy who attended Northside Elementary School.
“All our prayers and thoughts are with the families and community affected by this terrible tragedy,” he added.
In the rural community of mostly Latino families, neighbors said Saturday that gunshots were a common occurrence in the area.
Veronica Pineda, 34, said she did not know Mr. Oropeza and his family, but they had lived in the neighborhood for about five years. She said that they were known for hosting late night parties.
Guadalupe Calderon, 47, who lives in the neighborhood, said the shooting could have happened anywhere but that people in the community were shocked by the attack.
“We are all neighbors here, and we have to take care of each other,” she said. “Only God knows why he did it. Maybe they just didn’t get along.
Mr. Guzmán said he left Honduras five years ago to escape violent gangs and seek safety and family in Cleveland.
“We came here to escape violence,” he said, “and found it in America.”
Neelam Bohra, Edgar Sandoval And euan ward Contributed reporting.