KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The hunt for Hugo Villanueva-Morales is now in its sixth day.
Officials say the remaining suspect in the Tequila KC mass shooting, which left four dead, is considered armed and dangerous.
Although many people have speculated that Villanueva-Morales might be across the border in Mexico, retired FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael Tabman said he thinks he’s right here in the metro — and getting desperate.
“It’s constantly moving. It’s constantly progressing, and they’re closing in on him,” Tabman said. “If I was him, I’d turn myself in. It’s in his own best interest.”
Villanueva-Morales is on the run and trying to lay low. Tabman says he’s probably closer than you’d think.
“I think it’s highly likely that he’s still here in Kansas City,” Tabman said. “People feel, well, you should go far away where you’re not know — it’s not quite that easy, especially if you’re on a fugitive on the run.”
“You have to get around town. You have to make a living for yourself. You have to find a place to live, but not all of that is easy when you’re trying to stay under the radar.”
Some believe Villanueva-Morales is headed toward the Mexican border.
“It’s perceivable that he made it out there and could survive out there. But we have a pretty good relationship with the Mexicans and law enforcement,” Tabman said. “Getting an extradition is not an impossibility. This is a felony. It’s not a minor crime.”
He said it’s rare for mass shooters to go on the run for so long, but this isn’t your typical mass shooting.
“Here’s a person who’s machismo was insulted, and now he’s going to come back and get revenge,” Tabman said. “This is more of a gangster revenge than it is a troubled loner having this mass shooter to make up for all the wrongs of his world.”
Javier Alatorre, the other suspect, was taken into custody the day of the shooting.
Tabman said he could be the key to getting Villanueva-Morales behind bars.
“He has the death penalty on the table,” Tabman said. “He wants to get it off the table, and the only way to do that is to cooperate and give information. I would have imagine that that information led to his arrest, but that may not have happened.”
Tabman said it’s more than likely someone Villanueva-Morales knows is helping him stay low, but that can only last so long.
“My guess would be it will be someone who knows him and gets tired of sheltering him,” Tabman said. “Or he has a falling out with one of his friends, or colleagues, or associates, and they know they have this on him and they’ll turn him in.”
“Or he’ll just do something else criminal. He’ll victimize someone else, even if it’s a friend of his in desperation, and they’ll turn him in.”
Tabman said if Villanueva-Morales considers all of his options, the best one is to arrange a peaceful surrender and turn himself in. Anything else could have a dangerous result.