Abbott’s Office Walks Back “Illegal Immigrant” Description of Mass Shooting Victims

May 2, 2023

The office of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) walked back a description of the victims of a Friday night mass shooting as “illegal immigrants.”

As of Tuesday morning, police were still on the hunt for 38-year-old Francisco Oropesa, the suspect in a fatal shooting of five of his Cleveland, Texas neighbors, including a 9-year-old boy.

The child’s family had reportedly asked Oropesa to stop firing rounds in his yard. That’s when police say Oropesa went to the neighbors’ home with a black AR-15 semi-automatic rifle around 11:30pm and fired rounds. 

It was the 172nd mass shooting this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which defines the crime as four or more people killed or injured by gunfire. 

Friday, when the Cleveland, Texas shooting took place, was the 118th day of the year. In the four days since that shooting, 11 more mass shootings have taken place across the U.S. 

In a tweet Sunday, Gov. Abbott said, “I’ve announced a $50K reward for info on the criminal who killed 5 illegal immigrants Friday.”

The tweet immediately drew criticism. For example, Maritza Wong, a volunteer with the gun reform advocacy organization Texas Moms Demand Action, said in a statement, “The first statement out of Greg Abbott’s mouth is to turn this tragedy into a dog whistle. Meanwhile our governor refuses to make the most basic changes to Texas gun laws that would make our families safer and every day he does so he is abdicating public safety.”

Monday, afternoon, Renae Eze, a spokesperson for Abbott, blamed the federal government for providing incorrect information. 

“We’ve since learned that at least one of the victims may have been in the United States legally,” Eze said. “We regret if the information was incorrect and detracted from the important goal of finding and arresting the criminal,” she said.

Abbott’s office further said that “any loss of life is a tragedy, and our hearts go out to the families who have lost a loved one.”

PHOTO: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in 2016

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