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Texas mass shooting suspect could be anywhere and authorities are unsure if he is armed, sheriff says – ABC News

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Texas mass shooting suspect could be anywhere and authorities are unsure if he is armed, sheriff says
The search for a Texas gunman who allegedly murdered his neighbours after they asked him to stop firing rounds in his yard has stretched into a second day, with authorities saying he could be anywhere.
Francisco Oropeza, 38, remained at large more than 18 hours after the shooting that left five people dead, including an 8-year-old boy.
San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers said that authorities had widened the search to as far as 32 kilometres from the scene of the shooting.
Investigators found clothes and a phone while combing a rural area that includes dense layers of forest, but tracking dogs lost the scent, Sheriff Capers said.
Police recovered the AR-15 Mr Oropeza allegedly used in the shootings, but authorities were not sure if he was carrying another weapon, he said.
"He could be anywhere now," Sheriff Capers said.
The attack happened near the town of Cleveland, north of Houston, on a street where some residents said neighbours often unwind by firing off guns.
Sheriff Capers said the victims were between the ages of 8 and 31 years old and that all were believed to be from Honduras.
All were shot "from the neck up," he said.
The shooting took place on a rural pothole-riddled street where single storey homes sit on wide plots of land, surrounded by a thick canopy of trees.
A horse could be seen behind the victim's home, while in the front yard of Mr Oropeza's house a dog and chickens wandered.
Rene Arevalo Sr, who lives a few houses down, said he heard gunshots around midnight but didn't think anything of it.
"It's a normal thing people do around here, especially on Fridays after work," Mr Arevalo said.
"They get home and start drinking in their backyards and shooting out there."
A few months ago, Mr Arevalo said Mr Oropeza threatened to kill his dog after it got loose in the neighbourhood and chased the pit bull in his truck.
"I tell my wife all the time, 'Stay away from the neighbours. Don't argue with them. You never know how they're going to react'," Mr Arevalo said.
"I tell her that because Texas is a state where you don't know who has a gun and who is going to react that way."
Sheriff Capers said his deputies had been to Mr Oropeza's home at least once before and spoken with him about "shooting his gun in the yard".
It was not clear whether any action was taken at the time.
Sheriff Capers said there were 10 people in the house — some had just moved there earlier in the week — but that that no one else was injured. He said two of the victims were found in a bedroom laying over two children in an apparent attempt to shield them.
A total of three children found covered in blood in the home were taken to a hospital and found to be uninjured, Sheriff Capers said.
FBI spokesperson Christina Garza said investigators do not believe everyone at the home were members of a single family.
This week's Nashville school shooting is the latest in the long history of mass shootings across America, with the number of incidents rising significantly in the last decade.
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.
The confrontation followed the neighbours walking up to the fence and asking the suspect to stop shooting rounds, Sheriff Capers said.
The suspect responded by telling them that it was his property, Sheriff Capers said, and one person in the house got a video of the suspect walking up to the front door with the rifle.
The attack was the latest act of gun violence in what has been a record pace of mass shootings in the US so far this year, some of which have also involved semiautomatic rifles.
The mass killings have played out in a variety of places — a Nashville school, a Kentucky bank, a Southern California dance hall, and now a rural Texas neighbourhood inside a single storey home.
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.
Texas has confronted multiple mass shootings in recent years, including last year's attack at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde; a racist attack at an El Paso Walmart in 2019; and a gunman opening fire at a church in the tiny town of Sutherland Springs in 2017.
Republican leaders in Texas have continually rejected calls for new firearm restrictions, including this year over the protests of several families whose children were killed in Uvalde.
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This service may include material from Agence France-Presse (AFP), APTN, Reuters, AAP, CNN and the BBC World Service which is copyright and cannot be reproduced.
AEST = Australian Eastern Standard Time which is 10 hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)


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