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Reward amount increased to $50,000 for 'dangerous' Texas prison bus escapee

Gonzalo Lopez
Posted at 2:52 PM, May 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-16 18:36:20-04

LATEST UPDATE: TDCJ gives live update on 'dangerous' prison bus escapee Gonzalo Lopez in Leon County.

PREVIOUS UPDATES:

Westbound and eastbound, west of I-45 will be closed until further notice, said DPS officials.

3 P.M. press conference:

12 P.M. press conference:

SECOND UPDATE:

The reward amount for information leading to the capture and arrest of convicted murderer and Texas prison bus escapee Gonzalo Lopez has been increased to $50,000, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Lopez, who is serving a life sentence for capital murder and attempted capital murder, has been missing since Thursday after he assaulted prison officials and then escaped from a prison transport bus.

The total reward amount comes from three agencies: $35,000 from Texas Department of Public Safety, $10,000 from the U.S. Marshals, and $5,000 from the TDCJ OIG.

Lopez was last seen wearing white clothing near Hwy 7 in Leon County. Officials say they believe he is still in the area. He is believed to be 6-feet tall and weigh 190 pounds.

Authorities continue to urge those who come across Lopez to not engage and to call 911.

FIRST UPDATE

CENTERVILLE, Texas — Convicted murderer and Leon County prison bus escapee Gonzalo Lopez continues to evade capture.

But authorities on Saturday said they believe he hasn't ventured far and remains in the area.

Officials said they plan to reduce the perimeter and hone in on a smaller area where they suspect him to be as the manhunt continues.

Hwy 7 remains closed at this time.

Authorities say they believe the weather to be in their favor; they believe the heat will flush Lopez out as he may suffer from exposure and heat exhaustion.

ORIGINAL STORY:

A convicted killer affiliated with the Mexican Mafia remains loose in Leon County after escaping from a prison bus, authorities say.

"Lopez, from the Rio Grande Valley, is affiliated with the Mexican Mafia," Texas DPS said in a written statement. "Lopez has ties to the Rio Grande Valley area, including Weslaco and Mercedes. He also has ties to San Antonio."

The U.S. Marshals are offering a reward of up to $10,000, $5,000 is being offered by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and in the latest update, Texas Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $7,500 for information leading to his arrest.

The manhunt began Thursday in Leon County after Gonzalo Lopez — considered a "high security" inmate — overtook a prison bus near Centerville, police said.

Authorities say numerous agencies continue to work together in an attempt to apprehend Lopez. That includes the use of Texas Department of Public Safety aircraft.

According to an alert, searches are working the area north of Hwy 7, closely in the area between CR 317 and CR 320.

"Again, if you live in this area, make sure your lock your doors and vehicles. If you see something or someone you do not recognize or seems suspicious, please call 9-1-1. Do not approach the subject," the alert said.

Authorities have said two corrections officers were on board a prison bus loaded with inmates when Lopez freed himself of restraints and stabbed one of them in both his left hand and chest with a makeshift weapon. Authorities report the injuries were non-life-threatening.

During this altercation, the second officer shot the two back tires with his firearm which caused Lopez to crash about half a mile down the road.

After stabbing Officer Smith, Lopez struggled with the wounded man and tried to grab his service revolver, according to TDCJ officials.

The department says while Lopez was able to remove the weapon from the officer’s waist, Lopez was unable to get the officer's firearm but fled the bus as the armed driver fired repeatedly at him.

Officials said they are unsure if any of the shotgun blasts and pistol rounds struck Lopez.

Authorities report that 300 law enforcement officials are currently on the scene in addition to the FBI’s presence.

It is unknown whether Lopez is currently armed, or if he has been helped since his escape.

The remaining 15 inmates on the prison bus stayed and were not injured, and are in custody.

Police believe Lopez is still in the area and know he was seen in a cow pasture.

Police report they will update again at 3 p.m. unless there’s new and crucial information for the public. Regular updates are planned to be every two hours.

Anyone with information should contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-832-8477 or 936-437-5171.