Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Sunday that the state is offering a $50,000 reward as officials continue to search for a suspect accused of killing a family of five in Cleveland, Texas, early Saturday morning.
Abbott’s announcement, however, was overshadowed by claiming those killed were “illegal immigrants.”
Authorities have not released the immigration status of the family members killed.
Enrique Reina, Honduras’ foreign minister, confirmed the Honduran Consulate in Houston was in contact with surviving family members.
“I’ve announced a $50K reward for info on the criminal who killed 5 illegal immigrants Friday. Also directed #OperationLoneStar to be on the lookout,” a tweet from Abbott read, in part.
Abbott’s statement garnered backlash from politicians and immigration groups.
“Public figures like Abbott leverage their status by using social media to amplify language painting a specific narrative intended to alter the way you view plus treat the people around you,” the Immigrant Legal Resource Center said on Twitter. “The victims here were your neighbors. They were your friends. They were your colleagues.”
“Five human beings lost their lives and Greg Abbott insists on labeling them 'illegal immigrants,' said Julian Castro, former Housing and Urban Development secretary and Democratic presidential candidate.
Abbott’s announcement came as authorities said they do not have any tips on where the suspect could be.
"Right now, we just don't know because if we did, we would have him in custody right now. We do not know where he is, we do not have any tips right now of where he may be,” said FBI Special Agent James Smith.
Authorities have said they are looking for Francisco Oropesa, 38.
Oropesa is accused of entering his neighbor's home and opening fire after he was asked to keep it down while shooting in his yard late at night. After killing victims as young as 8 years old, Oropesa fled the scene, authorities said.
"One of the people who died saw when my wife fell to the ground and was dying and she told me to throw myself out the window because my children were already without a mother. So one of us had to stay alive to take care of them," said Wilson Garcia, whose wife and son were killed in the shooting. "And she was the person who helped me throw myself out the side of a window, but she still failed. She died."
Police are also asking for the public's help locating Oropesa.
The San Jacinto County Sheriff's Office said anyone with tips or information can call (936) 653-4367, and may remain anonymous. Information can also be submitted anonymously via multicountycrimestoppers.org.
Here are the newest images of Francisco Oropesa and a prominent tattoo on his left forearm.Going forward, the subject's last name will be spelled "Oropesa" to better reflect his identity in law enforcement systems. This remains a fluid investigation. #ClevelandTXShooting pic.twitter.com/ZWUu0FqoMF
— FBI Houston (@FBIHouston) April 30, 2023
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