AUSTIN, Texas - Moments after the Texas governor faced backlash for comments made about victims of a mass shooting in San Jacinto County, his office is drawing back statements after receiving new information.
Governor Greg Abbott's office noted in a press release Sunday announcing a $50,000 reward for Francisco Oropesa, 38, "who is in the country illegally and killed five illegal immigrants in a shooting Friday night in Cleveland, Texas."
By bringing up the victim's immigration status, the governor's office faced serious backlash, as it seemed tone-deaf to note.
In fact, even San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers noted his indifference toward the five victims' immigration status, telling reporters on Sunday, "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," he continued. "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 a recent email issued by Renae Eze, a spokesperson for Gov. Abbott, the statements were retracted after learning one of the victims was, in fact, a U.S. citizen.
"Any loss of life is a tragedy, and our hearts go out to the families who have lost a loved one," Eze said. "Following the horrific shooting on Friday night, federal officials provided the state of Texas information on the criminal and the victims, including that they were in the country illegally. 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 also noted the statements were not meant to deter from the seriousness of catching the gunman.
"We continue working with federal, state, and local officials to provide all available resources to catch and arrest the Cleveland mass shooter, including a combined $80,000 in rewards from state, local, and federal agencies for information," Eze said. "The true focus remains on catching this heinous criminal who killed five innocent people and bringing the full weight of Texas law against him."
This is a developing story and will continue to be updated as more information becomes available.