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Convicted killer with cartel ties remains on loose in Leon County, police say

$15,000 reward offered
Gonzalo Lopez
Posted at 3:04 PM, May 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-13 16:45:33-04

LATEST UPDATE

If you provide info that leads to the arrest of Leon County prison bus escapee Gonzalo Lopez, you may receive a $15,000 reward.

That's according to a Texas Department of Criminal Justice social media post.

Anyone with information should contact TDCJ OIG CRIME STOPPERS at 1-800-832-8477 or 936-437-5171.

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

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Update (10 a.m. Friday) — Leon County prison bus escapee Gonzalo Lopez is still on the loose.

Authorities say numerous agencies continue to work together in an attempt to apprehend the 46-year-old Lopez. That includes the use of Texas Department of Public Safety aircrafts.

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

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 the hand with makeshift weapon.

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

The department says 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.

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Update (11 p.m. Thursday) — Centerville ISD announced it's canceled all classes Friday as the search for a convicted killer with cartel ties remains ongoing.

"Due to the ongoing situation west of I45 and Hwy 7 shut down for the next 12-24 hours, Centerville ISD will NOT have classes Friday May 13th," officials with the district said on Facebook.

People living west of Interstate 45 in Centerville are still being asked to shelter in place as multiple law enforcement agencies search a closed perimeter for Gonzalo Lopez, 46.

Police urge the public to avoid a triangular perimeter inside the areas of Centerville, Marquez and Buffalo.

Roads inside the search zone are inaccessible for the next 12 to 24 hours.

Leon County search perimeter

Authorities said two corrections officers were on board a prison bus loaded with inmates just outside Centerville this afternoon, when Lopez freed himself of restraints and stabbed one of them in the hand with makeshift weapon.

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

The department says 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.

Texas DPS said a call came in around 1:20 p.m. on Thursday that a prison bus had crashed at Interstate 45 and F.M. 39.

TDCJ officials said that Lopez, who's currently serving a life sentence for a 2006 capital murder conviction in Hildago County and an attempted murder charge in Webb County, had a medical visit in Huntsville.

Lopez launched his attack and escape while the bus was in route to the Alfred D. Hughes unit, a maximum security prison in Gatesville, where the inmate is currently incarcerated.

Court records show Lopez confessed to kidnapping and killing Lupe Ramirez of Weslaco, Texas back in 2005, while working for "La Mana drug cartel from Tamaulipas, Mexico."

Documents show Lopez said he killed Rameriez with a "pick" after placing the bound man in a shallow grave over a $40,000 drug debt.

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Update (3:27 p.m.) – Authorities said that Gonzalo Lopez, 46, assaulted a corrections officer on board a prison bus in Leon County before fleeing from custody on foot.

Officials said Lopez is serving a life sentence for a capital murder charge in Hidalgo County and an attempted murder charge from Webb County.

Police said the fugitive is extremely dangerous and ask that anyone with knowledge of his whereabouts to call 911 immediately.

Original story: A manhunt is underway in Leon County after a "high security" inmate overtook a prison bus on Thursday afternoon near Centerville, police said.

An official with the Centerville Police Department told 25 News the prison inmate caused the vehicle to crash on Highway 7, roughly two miles west of Centerville.

Witnesses told authorities that the inmate then took off on foot around 1:20 p.m., officials said.

Police said Texas DPS, Leon County Sheriff's Office and the Texas Department of Corrections are assisting in finding the fugitive prisoner. Authorities are also using canines to track the inmate's whereabouts.

Officials are coordinating a secure perimeter around where they believe the fugitive is hiding.