A convicted murderer in Texas has escaped from a prison transport bus in the eastern part of the state. Now, authorities in the area around the town of Centerville are frantically searching for him.
Gonzalo Lopez, a 46-year-old inmate serving a life sentence for capital murder out of Hidalgo County, was being transported on a prison bus on Thursday afternoon when he allegedly stabbed the driver, forced the bus off the road, and fled on foot.
According to multiple media reports from the Lone Star State, Lopez (pictured above) had been shackled in the back of a bus that was transporting prisoners to medical appointments in Leon County. At some point around 1:20 p.m. local time, the man somehow was able to get out of his restraints, and he rushed to the front of the bus.
Once there, authorities report that he allegedly stabbed or slashed the driver in the hand with an unknown object, and attempted to take the driver’s gun. Lopez was unsuccessful in getting the weapon, but he ran off from the scene once the bus careened off the road. There was reportedly at least one other armed corrections officers on the bus, as well, according to KHOU 11 News and other local media outlets.
The scary situation occurred along Highway 7, near Interstate 45, just outside of the city of Centerville. That is about two hours north of Houston, in east Texas. Through Thursday night, authorities in the rural area were still frantically searching for Lopez, who had not yet been located. As of Friday
KBTX reports that there were apparently shots fired at Lopez during his escape, but he does not appear to have been struck while running away. The prisoner was last seen “running across a pasture” in the area, per KHOU 11 News, prompting “an intense search” for him. As of Friday morning, the TV news outlet reports that at least two schools in the area have canceled classes out of an abundance of caution while police search for the missing man.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice put out at alert on Thursday afternoon, warning the public in Leon County about the escaped prisoner and asking anybody who may see him to immediately contact the authorities:
TDCJ, OIG, & multiple law enforcement agencies are searching for the inmate near Highway 7 westbound in Leon County approximately 1.5 miles from Interstate 45. If you spot Lopez, immediately contact 911 and do not approach him.
— TDCJ (@TDCJ) May 12, 2022
Lopez, who has a criminal record that dates back to 1994, was convicted of capital murder in 2006 for an offense that took place in March of 2005. According to media reports, that murder apparently took place with a pickax.
Lopez has also been convicted of three aggravated assaults and one attempted capital murder charge over the years, along with several other lesser charges, according to the TDCJ. He had been sentenced to life in prison, with his first possible parole date scheduled for April of 2045.
Here is the latest news from Friday morning in the search for the escaped murderer:
According to authorities, Lopez escaped in white prison-issued clothing, and may still be wearing it.
Police are asking anybody in the area who may see him to immediately call 9-1-1.