More than 200 US police are searching for a man in Texas accused of shooting and killing five of his neighbors, including a nine-year-old child, authorities said.
The 38-year-old Francisco Oropesa is accused of the mass shooting at a private residence on Friday night in the city of Cleveland — about 40 miles northeast of the state capital Houston.
The victims were identified as Sonia Argentina Guzman, 25; Diana Velazquez Alvarado, 21; Julisa Molina Rivera, 31; Jose Jonathan C�Suarez, 18; and Daniel Enrique Laso-Guzman, nine. They were all Honduran nationals.
Police Investigators initially started tracking Oropesa using his cellphone, but said that trail went cold on Saturday evening and he could now be anywhere.
Addressing a news conference on Sunday, San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers said that the officers are going door to door and asking community members for information while authorities are also creating billboard posters in Spanish to inform everyone of the search.
Speaking at the same conference, FBI Houston Special Agent in Charge James Smith announced a collective $80,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to the suspect’s arrest.
“We don’t have any tips right now as to where he may be and that’s why we’ve come up with this reward so that hopefully somebody out there can call us,” Smith said.
“I can pretty much guarantee you, he’s contacted some of his friends… We just don’t know what friends they are and that’s what we need from the public, is any type of information because right now we’re running into dead ends.”
The gunman is believed to have used an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. Those killed were shot “almost execution style”, above the neck at close range, Sheriff Capers said.
Earlier on Sunday, the FBI had warned the suspect is “armed and dangerous” and urged anyone who saw Oropesa not to approach him.
The incident came days after nine people were injured at a shooting during a teenagers’ party in Texas. Two weeks ago four young people were shot dead during a 16th birthday party in Alabama.
The US has suffered at least 184 mass shootings in the first four months of this year, according to the non-profit Gun Violence Archive.