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Hwy 7 Re-opened In Leon County: Search for Gonzalo Lopez continues as law enforcement enters 'new phase'

Posted at 8:03 AM, May 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-06 15:55:30-04

CENTERVILLE, Texas — The search for murderer and Texas prison bus escapee Gonzalo Lopez continues.

Friday afternoon the search area was expanded outside Leon County

It was just before 3:45 p.m. Friday when Texas DPS troopers opened Hwy 7 back up to motorists. While there is no longer a search perimeter, the hunt for Lopez is still ongoing.

This investigation has left a scar for some residents as the whereabouts of Lopez remains uncertain.

“I mean living like that for an entire week was scary,” said Rachel Yepez, who works in the area. “At night you heard helicopters and everything else, and in the morning you heard dogs barking and searching the perimeter knowing they were just doing their job.”

Waking up Saturday, the community felt the search was over, but Robert Hurst of TDCJ gave his last statement to media Friday afternoon, saying law enforcement is not leaving Centerville... just yet.

“We are not calling off the search,” Hurst said. “We will continue to keep personnel here in Leon County, but the search will go into a new expanded phase.”

Yepez says though the perimeter has been removed, she’s still shaken up at the thought of a convicted killer possibly wandering in her community.

“In front of this property they had people up and down the road from the start of the property to the top of the hill to this back corner right over here," Yepaz said. "Across the street in the neighbor’s property they have had people searching and people staring and watching - the whole nine yards.”

Expanding the search, Hurst said, make it now a statewide operation, but one Centerville resident and army veteran says he believes law enforcement is just spending too much time on this.

“It’s just ridiculous,” said George Reynolds, a nearby resident. “When [those] dogs lost that scent so [fast]… they can pick up scents two or three days old [and to] have it gone that quick? It’s all over — he’s gone. Somebody picked him up.”