A massive manhunt is underway in Texas as more than 250 law enforcement officers from a dozen agencies collaborate to search for Francisco Oropesa, a 38 years old Mexican national who is suspected of murdering five of his neighbours, including a nine year old child after they allegedly requested him to stop shooting his rifle late into the night.
The Texas Governor, Greg Abbott, has offered a reward of US$50,000 for information leading to Oropesa’s arrest, emphasising the suspect’s immigration status and suggesting he is in the country illegally. This focus on the suspect and victims’ immigration status has sparked criticism on social media, with many arguing it detracts from the tragic loss of human lives.
Oropesa is accused of attacking his neighbours on Friday night, in the small town of Cleveland, southeastern Texas, after they asked him to cease firing his semi-automatic AR-15 due to the disturbance it was causing for a nearby baby. The victims were originally from Honduras, and some reports suggest Oropesa had been deported from the United States at least four times since 2009, although his current status remains unclear.
Greg Capers, the sheriff of San Jacinto County, expressed his sympathies for the young child who was killed, regardless of the family’s immigration status. The horrifying scene unfolded at the victims’ residence, with the authorities discovering the two children who survived amidst the bodies of the deceased. The suspect had allegedly been drinking and reportedly told his neighbours he could do whatever he wanted in his front yard before invading their house and opening fire.
The Honduran foreign minister, Enrique Reina, called for the perpetrator to face “the full weight of the law.” In response to this latest mass shooting, the White House has urged Congress to take action against gun violence, since “prayers alone are not enough.”
This incident seems to be part of a disturbing trend of seemingly trivial interactions escalating into tragic gun violence in the United States. There have been over 180 mass shootings in the country so far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. The United States has the highest rate of gun deaths of any developed nation, with 49,000 in 2021, up from 45,000 the previous year, reports Bangkok Post.
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