Officials believe convicted killer’s escape in Texas was premeditated
CENTERVILLE, Texas (KBTX/Gray News) - The search continues for convicted killer Gonzalo Lopez. Officials say the 46-year-old has been on the run for about 48 hours.
Lopez is serving a life sentence for capital murder out of Hidalgo County and attempted capital murder out of Webb County, KBTX reported.
Dog teams have been deployed to search over a four-mile perimeter that begins where Lopez escaped after he crashed a prison bus off Highway 7 in Centerville on Thursday. Officials said they believe he was able to escape his restraints with a homemade weapon. Texas Department of Criminal Justice Chief of Staff Jason Clark said they still don’t know what that weapon was.
Law enforcement also believes he used that same weapon to assault the officers on the bus and take control of it before the crash. Clark said Lopez was sitting towards the front of the bus before the incident happened.
“Lopez is an individual that is dangerous,” Clark said. “He has a disregard for human life. That’s obvious from his convictions, and it’s obvious from his escape, but I can tell you that TDCJ will not rest until Lopez has been captured.”
Clark said law enforcement has received calls from residents who believe they’ve seen Lopez near their residences since his disappearance. Clark said officials saw Lopez under a tree Thursday after he escaped but have not been able to locate him since.
Officials said they believe Lopez is still in Leon County and that his escape was premeditated. They’re investigating if other inmates or prison staff helped him escape.
“We know from Lopez’s history and his previous attempts to get away from law enforcement that he’ll stay put and lay low with the hopes that law enforcement will move to a different area, but I can just tell you we’re not gonna move,” Clark said. “Lopez is gonna get back in custody.”
The reward for information that leads to the inmate’s arrest is now $50,000.
Tips can be sent to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Office of the Inspector General Crime Stoppers at 1-800-832-8477, 936-437-5171, or your local law enforcement agency at 911. Tips can also be left at the TDCJ website.
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