US: Hunt for suspect as 5 killed in Texas after noise complaint

Neighbours had reportedly complained about noise made by the suspect who was firing a rifle in his yard, police said.

Members of Austin Police Department block off part of Republic of Texas Boulevard following an explosion in Austin, Texas, U.S., March 19, 2018. REUTERS/Sergio Flores
Police in Texas are searching for a suspect who shot five people dead, including an 8 year old boy [File: Sergio Flores/Reuters]

Police in the United States are on the hunt for a man suspected of shooting dead five neighbours, including an 8-year-old boy, after some of them had asked him to stop shooting a semiautomatic rifle in his front yard in Cleveland, Texas, because it was keeping their baby awake.

San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers told reporters on Saturday that the search area for the suspect, 38-year-old Francisco Oropeza, could now be as large as “10 or 20 miles” (16 to 32 km) as the gunman remained at large more than 15 hours after shooting his neighbours on Friday night.

The shooting happened near the town of Cleveland, Texas, about 72km (45 miles) north of Houston. The suspect may still be in possession of his weapon, an AR-15-style rifle, the sheriff said.

“We are tracking him with dogs and men on horseback and drones in the air,” Capers said.

On Friday night, the suspect started shooting off rounds from his rifle in his yard when some of his neighbours stepped out to confront him about noise, Capers said.

“The man walked over to the fence, said ‘Hey, we’re trying to keep the baby asleep in here,'” Capers said. Both parties then went back to their houses.

The suspect then “topped off his magazine, and walked down his driveway” onto the street then “into the people’s house and started shooting, Capers said.

He was quoted as saying by other news outlets that all the victims were shot in the head “almost execution-style”.

Police said all five victims were from Honduras. There were a total of 10 people in the house when the attack took place, Capers said, five of whom survived.

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, 8. They were all believed to be living in the house but were not members of a single family, according to the FBI.

Police had been called to the suspect’s house on a couple of previous occasions over complaints about noise he was making shooting his gun in his yard, Capers said.

Enrique Reina, the foreign minister of Honduras, said the Honduran consulate was in contact with the authorities in Texas.

“We demand that the full weight of the law be applied against the person responsible for this crime,” he wrote on Twitter.

Across the US since January 1, there have been at least 18 shootings that left four or more people dead, according to a database maintained by The Associated Press and USA Today, in partnership with Northeastern University.

Source: News Agencies