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Suspect in massacre of 5 neighbors in Texas allegedly beat his wife last year, prosecutor says

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CLEVELAND, Texas — The wife of the Texas man who authorities say fatally shot five of his neighbors Friday with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle filed a protective order against him in 2022 alleging he beat her, a local prosecutor confirmed Tuesday.

San Jacinto County District Attorney Todd Dillon said Francisco Oropesa, 38, who had managed to evade authorities until he was arrested Tuesday, allegedly attacked his wife on June 14.

She called the San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office to report Oropesa was drunk and had physically assaulted her, Dillon said.

Francisco Oropesa.FBI Houston

Dillon, citing records kept by his office, said deputies arrived at the couple’s home in Cleveland, where Oropesa’s wife said that Oropesa had kicked her on her backside and in the face and mouth and that he had broken the gate outside their home before he left, deputies reported.

She declined medical attention and chose not to file charges against him, but she asked to file for a protective order, Dillon said.

A few days later, she filed the order, delivering it to the district attorney’s office with help from a lawyer, Dillon said.

In a sworn statement, his wife said Oropesa hit her with a closed fist, kicked her on the floor and threatened her. She said he’d attacked her once before, about 11 years earlier, Dillon said, citing his office’s records on the case.

His wife told authorities last year that Oropesa was staying with a sister in Conroe, which is in neighboring Montgomery County. A constable from that county tried several times over a week to serve Oropesa with the order but never found him, Dillon said.

The complaint is a civil matter, Dillon said. Oropesa wasn’t charged with a crime, and the case remains open, he said.

The only other item in Oropesa’s criminal or civil record in Texas is a 2009 arrest for driving while intoxicated in Montgomery County. Records show he was sentenced in 2012 to 30 days in jail.

Oropesa’s wife couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday. A person who picked up the phone at a number believed to be hers promptly hung up when a reporter identified himself.

There were chicken, horses and dogs at Oropesa’s gated home Tuesday in Cleveland, about 45 miles north of Houston.

Authorities have identified the five neighbors killed Friday as Sonia Argentina Guzman, 25; Diana Velazquez Alvarado, 21; Julisa Molina Rivera, 31; Jose Jonathan Casarez, 18; and Daniel Enrique Laso, 9. They were all from Honduras.

Cleveland, Texas shooting victims
Diana Velazquez Alvarado, 21; Daniel Enrique Laso, 9, and his mother, Sonia Argentina Guzman, 25; Julisa Molina Rivera, 31; and Jose Jonathan Casarez, 18.via GoFundMe

The massacre occurred, officials said, after a neighbor asked Oropesa to stop shooting or to do so farther from the house. The neighbor, Wilson Garcia, has said his wife told him their month-old son was crying because of gunfire coming from Oropesa’s home.

Shortly after, Oropesa allegedly approached the victims’ home and started shooting, Garcia said. His wife and 9-year-old son were killed.

Oropesa, a Mexican national, has been deported four times, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He was removed from the U.S. twice in 2009 and once in 2012 and 2016, ICE said.

A neighbor who asked to be identified by only her first name, Vanessa, said Tuesday that her father and Oropesa used to be friends and would drink and shoot guns together on her property. Vanessa said her father died in 2021.

Vanessa said Oropesa appeared to have a drinking problem and a temper.

Vanessa, a neighbor of Francisco Oropesa, said she bought a gun after Friday's mass shooting.
Vanessa, a neighbor of Francisco Oropesa, said she bought a gun after Friday’s mass shooting.Antonio Planas / NBC News

“Once my dad figured out who this man was, once he figured out he’s not a good person, he stopped hanging out with him,” she said. “And I’m glad he did, because what if it was us?”

Friday’s bloodshed prompted a large-scale manhunt.

On Saturday, authorities believed they had Oropesa within about a 2-mile search area but later said he may have slipped past it after they found his cellphone and clothing.

“He could be anywhere now,” San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers said at a news conference Saturday.

On Tuesday night, Oropesa was arrested in Cut and Shoot, a city in Montgomery County, officials said.

Asked whether she’s surprised Oropesa managed to avoid detection for so long, Vanessa said she wasn’t, citing when he avoided being served with the protective order last year.

“He was hiding from the police that time, too,” she said.

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