The 9-year-old boy who was shot and killed in their Texas home with his mother and three others died trying to protect her, his heartbroken father said Monday.
Survivor and bereaved father Wilson Garcia described how fugitive Francisco Oropesa, 38, opened fire on the family and their guests after they complained about his late-night shooting waking up their baby.
Garcia stated that after his wife, Sonia Argentina Guzman, 25, shielded him from the gunman, it was his son, Daniel Enrique Laso, who came to assist after witnessing his mother’s body on the floor.
“He died because he wanted to defend his mother,” Garcia explained on NBC’s “Today.”
The victims were named by authorities as Diana Velazquez Alvarado, 21, Julisa Molina Rivera, 31, and Jose Jonathan Casarez, 18.
Sheriff Greg Capers of San Jacinto County said all five victims were shot from the neck up, “execution-style.”
Garcia has set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds to return his wife and son’s bodies home Honduras.
As of Monday afternoon, the page had raised more than $35,000 in donations. Another fundraiser for the families of all the victims has topped $200,000.
While authorities have yet to confirm the victims’ immigration status, Capers said it doesn’t matter because he wants justice for young Daniel and the others.
“My heart is with this… little boy,” Capers said, fighting back tears at a press appearance on Sunday. “I don’t care if he’s here legally or not. I don’t care if he was in the country illegally. He lived in my county.”
At least one of the victims, Alvarado, was confirmed to be a permanent US resident.
While authorities have yet to confirm the victims’ immigration status, Capers says it doesn’t matter because he wants justice for young Daniel and the others.
“My heart is with this… little boy,” Capers said at a press conference on Sunday, holding back tears. “I don’t care if he was here legally or not. I don’t care if he was here illegally. He was in my county.”
One of the victims, Alvarado, was verified to be a permanent resident of the United States.
The alleged gunman, on the other hand, was identified as a Mexican national who had been deported four times since 2009, according to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
On Friday night, he was allegedly inebriated and discharging his gun from his yard when Garcia and his wife urged him to stop because it woke up their 1-month-old baby.
Survivor Jeffri Rivera stated that there were eight adults and eight children inside the home at the time of the shooting, and that they phoned police five times before to the carnage.
Rivera stated that although some fled the house to flee the gunman’s anger, others took the children and hid in rooms and closets.
Oropesa is still on the run following the shooting on Friday night, with more than 250 law enforcement personnel searching for him across Texas.
Texas and the FBI are offering a combined $80,000 reward for any information leading to Oropesa’s location.
When reporters asked if he thought Oropesa would be apprehended, Garcia could only respond, “I hope so.”