Francisco Oropesa, the man accused of killing five people in Cleveland, Texas, was finally found under a pile of laundry in a closet. The four-day-long manhunt ended after an anonymous tip led authorities to a house just 20 miles from the crime scene. The information was called into an FBI line at 5:15 p.m. and led to Oropesa’s arrest at 6:30 p.m., said Jimmy Paul, the assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s Houston field office. The arrest ended an enormous manhunt across southeast Texas involving over 250 police officers, the FBI, and an $80,000 reward for information. Police also arrested several others connected with Oropesa and his fleeing from the police. However, the San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office didn’t identify the detained people or say why they were taken into custody. More people could be arrested later, according to the sheriff’s office.
By Alyssa Lukpat; May 3, 2023
Texas authorities said Wednesday that they arrested several people connected to the man accused of fatally shooting five people last week, who was captured after a dayslong manhunt that put a local community on edge.
The suspect, 38-year-old Francisco Oropesa, was arrested on Tuesday night at a home in Conroe, Texas, about 22 miles from where he shot five of his neighbors, said the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Houston.
The San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office didn’t identify the people Wednesday who were arrested or say why they were taken into custody. The sheriff’s office said no more than five people had been arrested.
More people could be arrested later, according to the sheriff’s office.
“Anybody that helped this maniac has definitely got some kind of issues as far as I’m concerned,” Chief Deputy Timothy Kean of the sheriff’s office said at a news briefing Wednesday morning.
A woman named Divimara Nava, 52, was being held in Montgomery County Jail Wednesday on a felony charge of hindering apprehension or prosecution of a known felon, according to jail records. Someone with the same name in San Jacinto County filed for a protective order last year against Francisco Orapeza Torres, according to county records. Protective orders require someone who has committed violence against a person to stay away from that person.
Officials said an anonymous tipster reported the suspect’s location on Tuesday and he was captured about an hour later hiding underneath laundry in a closet. He offered “just a little simple flurry of resistance,” Mr. Kean said. Nobody was injured during the arrest.
“I believe he thought he was in a safe spot,” Mr. Kean said, adding that Mr. Oropesa was calm during the capture.
Mr. Kean said Mr. Oropesa had a connection to the home but declined to elaborate.
Mr. Oropesa was charged with five counts of first-degree murder for killing a young boy, a man and three women, officials said.
The suspect’s arrest ended a sprawling manhunt in which hundreds of law-enforcement officials in Texas went looking for him door to door. The FBI and other agencies offered a total award of $80,000 for information leading to his capture.
He was set to be transferred to a jail in San Jacinto County, where the shooting took place, the sheriff’s office said Tuesday. Mr. Kean on Wednesday said a judge would set Mr. Oropesa’s bond at $5 million.
The shooting started after Mr. Oropesa’s neighbors approached his fence on Friday night and asked him to stop firing his weapon in the yard, according to the sheriff’s office. The neighbors had a baby who was trying to sleep. They lived in Cleveland, Texas, a small city about 40 miles north of Houston.
Mr. Oropesa refused to stop shooting and eventually turned his weapon on his neighbors. He entered their home and shot all five victims “almost execution-style” from the neck up, according to the sheriff’s office.
Mr. Oropesa escaped after the shooting and evaded authorities for four days.
Mr. Kean said there was a flurry of activity on a highway earlier this week because authorities spotted Mr. Oropesa running, but then they lost track of him.
The FBI’s Houston field office said on Tuesday that Mr. Oropesa could be anywhere in the U.S. or across the border. However, Mr. Kean on Wednesday said the authorities had deduced early on that Mr. Oropesa never left the area. He had been contacting people in the area on another cellphone.
Mr. Kean said authorities believe they have the weapon Mr. Oropesa used in the shooting, but they still had to confirm that.
Photo: EVAN GARCIA/REUTERS