NORTH ZULCH, Texas — As the search continues for convicted killer Gonzalo Lopez, who escaped a TDCJ transport bus in Centerville last month, residents of Madison County were awoken to heavy police presence Wednesday morning, approximately 40 miles from where Lopez was last seen.
At approximately 8:30 p.m. Tuesday night, a witness notified police that they had spotted a tattooed man wearing shorts and tennis shoes, walking along Texas State Highway 21 over the Navasota River. The surrounding area is rural, with few structures nearby, and the caller found this person to be suspicious.
When officers arrived, the man fled off into the woods.
“TDCJ arrived pretty quickly, dropped a pack of dogs, ran a track all the way into North Zulch, and then they lost him," said Madison County Sheriff Bobby Adams.
One helicopter was on scene, and Madison County sheriff’s deputies were assisted by Brazos County officers as well. The residents around North Zulch were notified by a local police alert system, and the community buzzed with activity.
“We received some calls about suspicious activity and we checked all of those out," Adams said. "... A few people called in, and they’d had knocks at their doors.”
North Zulch residents told KRHD that they don’t feel too bothered by the search. Connie Kefer, whose family runs a resale shop in town, said she doesn’t think Lopez will show up at her back door any time soon.
“I think he’s long gone, far away from here," Kefer said. "He’s done what he needs to do to get gone ... I’d feel better if they caught him, but I know if we need to, we can handle our own at my house.”
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice called off the search at 4:45 a.m., though as of Madison County law enforcement is still patrolling the area, searching.
Sheriff Adams said he believes it is unlikely the tattooed man is Lopez. Regardless, his team wants to locate and identify this person.
The Madison County Sheriff’s office has asked that the public submit any tips to law enforcement, through the sheriff’s office at 936-348-2755 or Madison County CrimeStoppers.