Texas cartel killer Gonzalo Lopez had a homemade knife and a key before escaping from a prison bus cage, attacking an officer, crashing the bus and then fleeing into the woods, a state senator said Tuesday.
Lopez, who killed a family of five before he was gunned down by law enforcement near San Antonio on Thursday, made other inmates on the bus aware of his plans ahead of time, said State Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston).
The 16 inmates on board "started making a disturbance, singing and jumping up and down" prior to Lopez’s escape, Whitmire said.
Lopez told "other inmates he was going to escape and 'this is your opportunity,'" Whitmire said.
The officers were distracted, and the driver was watching the road, while Lopez was releasing his restraints, and then while he was "breaking out of the little cage he was in," Whitmire said.
25 News asked the state's most senior senator if the same key was used for the killer's restraints and the metal cage aboard the bus.
"Same key for both I understand," Whitmire said.
Officials with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice previously said the escaped killer used a makeshift knife to both cut his way through restraints and the cage on the bus.
Criminal charges could be filed against some of the inmates, Whitmire said.
"Lopez was the worst of the worst," and there were "huge mistakes made," Whitmire said.
Whitmire said the key hasn't been recovered and that either an inmate took it or that it was "lost in the shuffle."
On Wednesday, TDCJ spokesman Robert Hurst said: "There is an assumption that Lopez had some kind of sharp object to cut through the bus door (seen in these pictures) and a key to get out of his handcuffs."
“No evidence to this effect has ever been recovered either on the bus or during the search for him,” Hurst said.
A day earlier, Hurst said: "No one has been placed ‘on leave.' One officer is on an approved leave (he requested it) and the other officer is back at work."
Meanwhile, Whitmire said 2,000 inmates travel on the roads of Texas each day – half for medical-related reasons. The state of Texas has 98 prisons and 120,000 inmates.