Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday expressed “regret” in a statement for calling one of the five victims of a shooting massacre “illegal.”
In a tweet on Sunday, Abbott had announced a ”$50K reward for info on the criminal who killed 5 illegal immigrants” in an “execution-style” shooting on April 28. One of those killed included a 9-year-old child.
The tweet sparked backlash, with many accusing Abbott of victim blaming by referencing the victims’ immigration status. Many noted that at least one the victims appeared to be a permanent resident of the United States.
In a new statement released Monday, Abbott’s office wrote, “Any loss of life is a tragedy, and our hearts go out to the families of those who have lost a loved one. We’ve since learned that at least one of the victims may have been in the United States legally. We regret if the information was incorrect and detracted from the important goal of finding and arresting the criminal.”
CNN reported Monday that the suspect who killed his five neighbors had entered the U.S. illegally and had been previously deported at least four times. Law enforcement is still searching for the suspect who has been identified by immigration authorities as Francisco Oropesa Perez-Torres.
Authorities said the suspect had been shooting his rifle in his yard Friday evening when he was approached by his neighbors who asked him to not shoot so close to their home.
The gunman reportedly refused and became confrontational, prompting his neighbors to call the police. Several minutes later, the shooter appeared at the neighbors’ front door and killed four adults and the child using an AR-15 rifle.
Police have identified the victims as Sonia Argentina Guzman, 25 and her 9-year-old son Daniel Enrique Laso, Diana Velazquez Alvarado, 21, Julisa Molina Rivera, 31, and Josué Jonatán Cáceres, 18.
The suspect remains at large and is considered armed and dangerous. The FBI said it currently has no leads as to his whereabouts but believe he is no longer hiding in the area.