Reward offered for information leading to capture of escaped Texas inmate

Escapee was serving a life sentence for committing violent crimes in two border counties.

Updated: May 14, 2022 - 10:55pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

A manhunt continues in Leon County and surrounding areas in Texas for someone that authorities describe as a dangerous inmate who stole a prison bus on Thursday afternoon and escaped.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice is now offering a $22,500 reward for information leading to the capture of 46-year-old Gonzalo Lopez, who is considered to be armed and dangerous, law enforcement officials have said.

“A $22,500 reward is being offered for info leading to the capture of escapee Gonzalo Lopez,” TDCJ said in a public announcement. “Please contact TDCJ OIG CRIME STOPPERS at 1-800-832-8477 or 936-437-5171 or your local law enforcement agency at 911. You can also leave a tip via the website.”

The reward is up from the initial $15,000 announced Friday morning.

Visitation to certain prisons is cancelled until further notice, TDCJ said. In a separate announcement, it said, “Due to the ongoing efforts in the apprehension of escaped inmate Gonzalo Lopez, visitation for select units will be cancelled for May 14, 2022. Until further notice, please contact the unit prior to traveling for visitation.”

Lopez is currently serving a life sentence for committing violent crimes in two border counties: capital murder in Hidalgo County and attempted capital murder in Webb County.

“Gonzalo Lopez is out there somewhere, we are continuing our search for him,” Robert Hurst, TDCJ public information officer, said, according to KPRC News. “He is a very dangerous person. He killed a man in 2005 with a pick-axe after kidnapping the man and asking for a ransom for his return. When that was not done, he killed the man. He also had an accomplice and we still do not know who that was.”

In light of how dangerous Lopez is, TDCJ’s response is being described by some as a comedy of errors if it weren’t so serious.

Lopez and 16 other inmates were being transported from a men’s prison in Gatesville, west of Waco, to Huntsville for medical reasons on Thursday afternoon.

Somehow Lopez not only loosened himself of his restraints, but also brought an instrument on board that he used to stab the driver. Before he got to the driver, he wasn’t stopped by another officer in the back of the bus carrying a shotgun, known as a gunner.

Once he got to the driver, Lopez stabbed him in the chest and left hand, according to news reports. The driver pulled over and a physical altercation ensued outside of the bus. The other officer got out through the emergency door and shot the back two tires. Still, neither officer could restrain or deter Lopez, who got back on the bus and stole it with 15 other inmates inside.

He then drove the bus about a mile before he lost control and it crashed. Lopez then ran off.

The TDCJ officers caught up to the crashed bus and fired shots at Lopez, missing him. He was last seen running across a field. Nearly 48 hours later, Lopez still hasn’t been found.

No other inmates escaped, TDCJ said.

To Texans living in the area, Hurst warned, “If you see him, do not attempt to take him into custody by yourself. Contact 911 and have local law enforcement deal with him. He is someone not to be reckoned with by yourself.”

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