MANHUNT OVER: Escaped killer Gonzalo Lopez dead after shootout with police in South Texas
CENTERVILLE, Texas (KWTX) - Escaped killer Gonzalo Lopez, suspected of killing four children and one adults in Leon County, is dead after a shootout with police in South Texas late Thursday night.
Officials initially said the escaped inmate had murdered three children and two adults.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice said authorities in Atascosa County spotted the late 90s model Chevrolet Silverado stolen from the residence where the five people were murdered near Centerville earlier Thursday.
Lopez led authorities on a pursuit and eventually wrecked the vehicle. When he exited the vehicle, Lopez allegedly fired a weapon at the law enforcement officers in the town of Jourdanton.
The officers fired back at Lopez, killing him. Officials said Lopez was armed with an AR-15 and several pistols.
Lopez had been on the run since May 12 and is believed to have murdered the family in Centerville. Investigators believe the weapons Lopez used in the shootout with police in South Texas were stolen from the home of the murdered victims.
A spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety tells KBTX the victims were found murdered on Thursday near the area where Lopez was last seen in May. A large law enforcement presence was in the area Thursday evening.
“We are very saddened that the murders happened but I will tell you we are breathing a sigh of relief that Lopez will not be able to hurt anyone else,” said Texas Department of Criminal Justice Chief of Staff Jason Clark.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice said law enforcement received a call from an individual who was concerned after not hearing from an elderly relative. Officers arrived at the residence and discovered the bodies of two adults and three children.
Earlier this week, authorities investigated a possible sighting of Lopez on Highway 21 in Madison County, but they later determined it wasn’t him, although the man who was reported by a concerned citizen ran off into a wooded area and was never located.
Lopez, 46, escaped from a TDCJ prison bus on Highway 7 west of Centerville on May 12 as they were headed to Huntsville for a medical appointment.
The inmate, serving a life sentence for capital murder, was being transported to a medical appointment in a caged area of the bus designated for high-risk inmates.
As Lopez was being transported, he somehow freed himself from his hand and leg restraints, cut through the expanded metal of the cage, and crawled out the bottom, TDCJ said. He then attacked the driver, who stopped the bus and got into an altercation with Lopez, the department said. They both eventually got off the bus.
At some point the driver was stabbed and wounded in the hand and chest, said Jason Clark, the department’s chief of staff. He said the driver’s wounds weren’t life-threatening.
A second officer at the rear of the bus then exited and approached Lopez, who got back on the bus and started driving down the road, the department said.
The officers fired at Lopez and disabled the bus by shooting a rear tire, the department said. The bus then traveled a short distance before leaving the roadway, where Lopez got out and ran into the woods, according to the department.
Sixteen prisoners were aboard the bus, but no one else escaped, the department said.
Leon County has roughly 16,000 residents and is about 50 miles north of the state’s prison headquarters in Huntsville.
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