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US: Texas man accused of killing neighbors arrested

May 3, 2023

The suspect reportedly shot his neighbors after he was accused of firing a gun in his yard. The arrest ends a mass search operation that involved more than 250 law enforcement personnel.

Greg Capers giving a press conference
San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers announced that the suspect is in custodyImage: Evan Garcia/REUTERS

A man believed to be behind the killings of five of his neighbors in Texas has been arrested, authorities said on Tuesday.

The suspect allegedly shot five people, including a 9-year-old boy, with an AR-15-style rifle after his neighbors had complained about the noise he was causing by firing a gun in his yard at night.

"We now have this man in custody," San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers told reporters. "He was caught hiding in a closet underneath some laundry."

The suspect will be charged with five counts of murder. Bail was set a $5 million (€4.5 million).

Manhunt ends after four days

The search operation involved more than 250 law enforcement officers and other authorities also offered a $50,000 (€45,000) reward for information leading to the suspect's whereabouts.

The FBI said investigators received more than 200 tips.

The suspect was identified as a 38-year-old Mexican national who immigration officials said had been deported from the US four times since 2009.

Montgomery County Sheriff Rand Henderson said the man was arrested without incident on Tuesday, four days after the shooting.

Officers found him near the town of Conroe, some 20 miles (32 kilometers) west of the home in Cleveland where the incident took place.

Shooting shocks nation

The attack on Friday was the latest shooting in the US to intensify the debate over gun control.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott also caused controversy after he said the suspect "killed five illegal immigrants" — an unsubstantiated claim about the victims' immigration status that was walked back by Abbott's office on Monday.

The father of one of the victims said that his daughter, 21-year-old Diana Velazquez Alvarado, had just received US residency after she arrived from Honduras without documents eight years ago with the help of her older sister.

"Her sister convinced me to let her take my daughter. She told me the United States is a country of opportunities and that's true," Osman Velasquez said on Tuesday. "But I never imagined it was just for this."

A woman leaving flowers at the memorial
A makeshift memorial was established outside the victims' homeImage: David J. Phillip/AP Photo/picture alliance

Family, friends and other community members have set up a makeshift memorial outside the victims' home.

"They can rest easy now, because he is behind bars," Capers said of the families of the victims. "He will live out his life behind bars for killing those five."

zc/wd (AP, Reuters, AFP)