The man accused of killing five neighbors in a rural Texas home was taken into custody on Tuesday after a four-day search, authorities said.
Francisco Oropeza, 38, was arrested in Montgomery County, Texas, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office confirmed.
San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers said Oropeza was taken into custody after authorities received a tip about his location. He was charged with five counts of murder and was booked in the Montgomery County Jail. Capers said he was arrested by task force agents in the city of Cut and Shoot.
Oropeza will be transported back to the San Jacinto County jail and held on a $5 million bond.
“He was caught hiding in a closet underneath some laundry,” Capers said at a press conference Tuesday evening.
FBI assistant special agent in charge Jimmy Paul office said the tip was received through the FBI’s tip line at about 5:15 p.m. and the arrest was made at about 6:30 p.m.
Capers said the arrest was a relief to the community. “He is behind bars and he will live out his life behind bars for killing those five,” Capers said.
Authorities said Oropeza was firing rounds in his backyard in the town of Cleveland, about 45 miles outside Houston, late Friday night just before midnight, when a neighbor asked him to shoot farther away because a baby was trying to sleep. Wilson Garcia, the father of the 1-month-old baby, said he called police after Oropeza refused.
Garcia said 10 to 20 minutes later, Oropeza came up to their house and started firing. Garcia’s wife, Sonia Argentina Guzman, 25, was standing at the door and was the first person shot and killed. Garcia’s 9-year-old son, Daniel Enrique Laso, was killed in a front room. Diana Velazquez Alvarado, 21, Julisa Molina Rivera, 31, and Jose Jonathan Casarez, 18, were also killed. Authorities said the two other women died while using their bodies to shield Garcia’s baby and 2-year-old daughter, who survived. Garcia said more than a dozen people were in his home at the time.
“Everybody that was shot was shot from the neck up, almost execution style,” Capers said.
Authorities said they used doorbell camera footage and an identity card to identify Oropeza. They have been searching for him since the shooting and authorities offered $80,000 in reward money for tips that would lead to the suspect. Hundreds of law enforcement officers from local and state agencies, the FBI and U.S. Marshals were using drones and scent-tracking dogs in the search.
Law enforcement believed Oropeza fled on foot. They found clothes and a cellphone in the area around the home, which includes a dense forest, Capers said.
Though officials recovered the AR-15-style rifle used in the attack, they said Oropeza should be considered armed and dangerous. Oropeza had been deported four times since 2009, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said. The FBI Houston office said it’s spelling the suspect’s last name as “Oropesa” instead of “Oropeza” “to better reflect his identity in law enforcement systems.”
The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office twice reported possible sightings Monday, but each time the searches come up empty.
Contributing: John Bacon and Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY; The Associated Press
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