Home » Blog » Greg Abbott’s spokeswoman regrets calling massacre victim “illegal”
News Texas United States

Greg Abbott’s spokeswoman regrets calling massacre victim “illegal”

Gov. Greg Abbott is receiving heavy criticism for his response to a Houston-area mass shooting that left five people dead. Francisco Oropesa is accused of fatally shooting five of his neighbors, including a 9-year-old boy, near Cleveland, Texas. As authorities have seemingly reached a dead end in their search of the suspect after more than two days of searching, the Republican leader announced on Sunday that he is offering a reward of $50,000 is being offered for information on Oropesa’s whereabouts.

Abbott also referred to the victims as “illegal immigrants,” and noted that Oropesa is undocumented. “I’ve announced $50K reward for info on the criminal who killed 5 illegal immigrants Friday,” Abbott wrote on Twitter, attaching a press release with the announcement. As of Monday, a Twitter Community Note was added to the tweet noting that at least one of the dead was a legal resident of the U.S. Law enforcement have described all five victims as being from Honduras but have not confirmed their immigration status. 

On Sunday, San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers choked up as he told media: “My heart is with this 8-year-old little boy. I don’t care if he was here legally. I don’t care if he was here illegally. He was in my county. Five people died in my county, and that is where my heart is—in my county, protecting my people to the best of our ability.” 

In response to Abbott’s tweet, Carlos Eduardo Espina, an immigrant rights activist, shared a photo of an ID he claimed belonged to one of the victims and confirmed that she was a permanent resident of the U.S. “But I guess to Greg Abbott, anyone who is from another country is an ‘illegal immigrant.’ Shameful,” Espina wrote.

Also among those who condemned Abbott’s statement was State Sen. Roland Gutierrez, who represents Uvalde, Texas. “A new low for @GregAbbott_TX who continues to do nothing to keep #Texas from #GunViolence,” Gutierrez tweeted. “Greg, how was an undocumented person able to abtain an AR-15 in the first place? I’ll tell you why. It’s because you and other Republicans have made safe gun laws nonexistent.” 

Actor George Takei replied to Abbott’s tweet: “This is despicable. I would have thought bringing up the immigration status of the innocent victims of this senseless violence would be beneath you. But I was wrong.” 

Texas Rep. Veronica Escobar tweeted: “They were part of a family, @GregAbbott_TX—and one of the victims was a child. What a disgusting lack of compassion and humanity.” 

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus also blasted Abbott’s statement, tweeting: “5 innocent lives lost to gun violence. TX @GovAbbott decides to dehumanize & delegitimize the lives of those killed in this horrific attack by calling them ‘illegal’ immigrants. Just horrible. Thoughts are with the families and the survivors during this difficult time.”

Shannon Watts, gun violence prevention activist and founder of Moms Demand Action, said Abbott was attempting to “dehumanize the victims” and responded by sharing their photos, including of 9-year-old victim Daniel Enrique Laso. 

Abbott’s office appears to be walking back on his characterization of the victims. In an emailed statement, Abbott spokesperson Renae Eze said following the shooting on Friday night, federal officials provided information on Oropesa and the victims, including that they were undocumented. 

“Any loss of life is a tragedy, and our hearts go out to the families who have lost a loved one,” Eze wrote. “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.” 

Eze said Abbott’s office continues to work with federal, state, and local officials to provide all available resources to catch and arrest Oropesa, including offering a combined $80,000 in rewards for information. “The true focus remains on catching this heinous criminal who killed five innocent people and bringing the full weight of Texas law against him,” she wrote. “For those with any information, please call the Texas Crime Stoppers Hotline at (800) 252- TIPS (800)-252-8477).” 

Source: chron