Texas Governor Slammed for Tweets After Mass Shooting

Gregg Abbott labels victims 'illegal immigrants'; reward for suspected gunman jumps to $80K
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 1, 2023 6:24 AM CDT
Texas Cops: We Have 'Zero Leads' on Where Gunman Is
The home of the suspect in a mass shooting is shown Sunday in Cleveland, Texas.   (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

On Saturday, Texas authorities had an idea where the suspect in a mass shooting that killed five Friday night might have been hiding out. By Sunday, that inkling had vanished. "We do not know where he is. We do not have any tips on where he may be," FBI Houston Special Agent in Charge James Smith said Sunday in a presser, adding that law enforcement had "zero leads" on Francisco Oropesa's whereabouts, per USA Today. The 38-year-old from the town of Cleveland is accused of fatally gunning down five of his neighbors, including an 8-year-old, after they asked him to stop shooting his gun in his yard so that a baby could sleep.

More than 250 officers from local police agencies and the FBI, as well as K9 units and drones, are now involved in the manhunt for Oropesa, and San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers says authorities are going door to door to try to pick up the trail. The reward for information leading to his capture has jumped: Per NBC News, the state of Texas is now offering $50,000, the FBI $25,000, and a local nonprofit another $5,000, for a total of $80,000. Residents of Cleveland have been asked to remain on alert, and to keep their doors locked; Oropesa is considered armed and dangerous.

Capers, who notes Oropesa was from Mexico, says an AR-15-style rifle used in the shooting was recovered, as were clothes and a cellphone. Other weapons were discovered during a search of Oropesa's home, he adds. Capers also notes that his deputies had been to Oropesa's residence in the past to reprimand him for shooting his gun off. Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is taking heat for a pair of tweets he posted after the killings, per Newsweek and Insider. First, just hours after the shooting and without yet issuing a statement on it, Abbott greeted the internet Saturday morning with a picture of his dog and the caption "All smiles for the weekend."

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His statement finally came Sunday afternoon, in which he offered condolences to the victims' loved ones, but also spurred outrage by offering a reward for "info on the criminal who killed 5 illegal immigrants." It's not yet clear if the victims were indeed undocumented—Capers has only said they were all originally from Honduras—but respondents to Abbott's tweet pointed out that shouldn't matter. "Five human beings lost their lives and Greg Abbott insists on labeling them 'illegal immigrants,'" former HUD Secretary Julian Castro tweeted. "My heart is with this 8-year-old little boy," Capers said, per NBC. "I don't care if he was here legally, I don't care if he was here illegally." (More mass shootings stories.)

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