Gunman Kills Five People in Texas Home, Authorities Say
CLEVELAND, Texas — The loud, rapid-fire bangs from a gun were keeping Wilson Garcia’s baby awake on Friday night, so he asked the neighbor who was shooting if he could stop.
The authorities said the neighbor, Francisco Oropeza, 38, who had been drinking, said no. His yard, he said, his rules.
Mr. Garcia warned that he would call the police. But after Mr. Oropeza walked back to his house, he re-emerged, with a gun.
He walked toward Mr. Garcia’s cream-colored home, where he shot Mr. Garcia’s wife, Sonia Guzman Taibo, who was standing near the entrance and had called the police.
The rampage continued inside Mr. Garcia’s home, where the authorities said Mr. Oropeza fatally shot four additional people, including a 15-year-old girl and an 8-year-old boy, “almost execution-style.”
“He wanted to kill us all to leave no evidence,” Mr. Garcia said.
The episode in Cleveland, Texas, which is about 45 miles northeast of Houston, has stunned a nation already weary of shootings seemingly set off by mundane mix-ups and interactions, such as a neighborly complaint.
This month, a 16-year-old 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 after one got into the wrong car.
The shooting on Friday night prompted a sprawling search for the gunman, who may have fled the area and remained at large as of Saturday evening.
Three other people were taken to hospitals after the shooting, which happened around 11:30 p.m. Their conditions were not immediately known. The victims were all from Honduras, officials said.
Four people were pronounced dead at the scene and a fifth person died at a hospital, the San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office said.
Two of the victims were women. One man, a 15-year-old girl and an 8-year-old boy were also killed. The identities of the victims have not yet been made public.
Several law enforcement agencies, including the F.B.I., were searching homes and wooded areas on foot and with drones to find Mr. Oropeza, Sheriff Greg Capers of San Jacinto County said in a phone interview on Saturday.
He said investigators believed that Mr. Oropeza had been drinking and firing shots in his yard when the victims walked over to ask him to stop.
“He said, ‘I’ll do what I want to in my front yard,’” Sheriff Capers told reporters earlier on Saturday.
Sheriff Capers told reporters that Mr. Oropeza was known to “frequently” fire an AR-15 in his front yard. Officials said Mr. Oropeza was firing a semiautomatic weapon, but it was unclear exactly what type of firearm was used in the attack on Friday night.
Mr. Garcia, who moved to the United States from Honduras three years ago, said that he had “never had any problems” with Mr. Oropeza, who had once helped Mr. Garcia chop down a tree.
Mr. Garcia said that after Mr. Oropeza shot his wife, the gunman chased him. Mr. Garcia escaped through a window and ran outside.
“I thought he was going to follow me,” he said. “But after he couldn’t catch me, he went back to the house to finish them off.”
Mr. Garcia said he went to a family member’s house to hide. When he returned to his home, he found his two children hidden in a closet.
According to Carlos Ramirez, Mr. Garcia’s brother, the two women who were killed were shielding an 18-month-old baby boy and a 3-year-old girl, who survived.
“They were hugging them,” Mr. Garcia said.
Robert Freyer, the first assistant district attorney of the criminal district attorney’s office in San Jacinto County, said there were 10 people in the house, though Mr. Ramirez said there were 12.
“Everybody that was shot was shot from the neck up, almost execution-style,” Sheriff Capers said.
Enrique Reina, the foreign minister of Honduras, said on Twitter that the Honduran consulate was in contact with the authorities in Texas and 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 on Saturday that the district was aware of one victim, a boy in the third grade, who attended Northside Elementary School.
The school district “is heartbroken learning the news concerning the death of one of our students,” she said, adding that the boy’s name had not been released. “All of our prayers and thoughts are with the families and community impacted by this horrible tragedy.”
In the rural community of mostly Latino families, neighbors said on Saturday that the sound of gunfire in the area was a common occurrence.
“There are always gunshots here,” Veronica Pineda, 34, said. “For us, this is something normal.”
Ms. Pineda said that she did not know Mr. Oropeza and his family but that they had been living in the neighborhood for about five years. She would occasionally see Mr. Oropeza riding a horse down the street.
“He would stroll with his horse, and he always looked calm,” Ms. Pineda said, adding that Mr. Oropeza and his family were known for hosting parties late into the night.
Guadalupe Calderon, 47, who lives in the neighborhood, said that shooting a “couple of bullets in their property does not mean that they are criminals.”
“This can happen anywhere,” Ms. Calderon said, adding that those in the community were surprised about the shooting. “We are all neighbors here, and we have to take care of one another. Only God knows why he did it. Maybe they just didn’t get along.”
Neelam Bohra and Euan Ward contributed reporting.