Convicted murderer Gonzalo Lopez was killed late Thursday in a shootout with law enforcement as authorities named him a "prime suspect" in the murder of five.
Lopez, 46, had been on the run since escaping a prison bus May 12 in Leon County.
A Texas prison system spokesman said Lopez killed a Houston family of five in their weekend cabin and took their pickup truck. He was spotted in the truck in Jourdanton, Texas, roughly 35 miles south of San Antonio.
A shootout ensued — and Lopez was killed — after authorities used spike strips to blow out the tires. Lopez came out of the truck shooting an AR-15 at officers. Officers there engaged in gunfire with Lopez, killing him, according to Jason Clark with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. In addition to the AR-15, he had a pistol, Clark said.
The rural cabin where the family was killed is along Hwy 7 west of Centerville. Authorities found the bodies of a grandfather and four grandchildren inside. The cabin is located near where Lopez escaped the prison bus. It wasn't immediately clear if Lopez had been staying in the cabin since his escape.
Affiliated with the “Mexican Mafia,” Lopez had ties to San Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley. In 2006, he was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of capital murder and aggravated kidnapping. He received a second life sentence in 2007 for attempted capital murder. In 1996, he received two eight-year sentences for two counts of aggravated assault.
UPDATE (11:46 p.m.) – TDCJ officials now say that officers found four minors and one adult dead earlier today inside the home in Leon County.
Officials with the agency said originally that authorities found two adults and three children killed that they believed to be tied to Gonzalo Lopez.
Correction: The TDCJ received updated information regarding the victims. The victims included one adult and four minors. Law enforcement remains on scene and continues to process incident information. https://t.co/OkYxXXbdZ4— TDCJ (@TDCJ) June 3, 2022
They have yet to release any further information but said the investigation at the home off of SH-7 is ongoing.
UPDATE (11:29 p.m.) – The Texas Department of Criminal Justice says cartel killer Gonzalo Lopez is dead.
Officials said that the vehicle matching one that Lopez fled in from Leon County was spotted by deputies with the Atascosa County Sheriff's Office.
They said deputies used a device to deflate the vehicles tires outside Jourdanton, Texas, and Lopez came out the truck shooting an AR-15 at officers.
Officers there engaged in gunfire with Lopez, killing him, according to Jason Clark with TDCJ.
Clark said Lopez had a handgun in the vehicle along with the assault rifle.
UPDATE (10:48 p.m.) – Convicted cartel killer Gonzalo Lopez is in custody tonight after fleeing from custody over three weeks ago, police said.
McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara told 25 News law enforcement in Atascosa County caught the fugitive murderer earlier Thursday night.
Authorities said Lopez was traveling in the Chevrolet Silverado belonging to a family that they believe he may have killed in Leon County.
No word yet on Lopez's intended destination.
This comes as authorities made a gruesome discovery inside a home near Centerville, where the bodies of two adults and three children were found.
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Missing Leon County prison bus escapee Gonzalo Lopez is the “prime suspect” in the murder of two adults and three children who were found in a residence within the “search perimeter,” a Texas Department of Criminal Justice official said late Thursday.
Those killed were from Houston, said Jason Clark, chief of staff, TDCJ.
Missing Leon County prison bus escapee Gonzalo Lopez may be responsible for “five murders,” and Texas Rangers are assisting the Leon County Sheriff’s Office in the investigation.
That’s according to a social media post from the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Southeast Region.
WHAT WE KNOW, per authorities:— Todd Unger (@ToddNEWS) June 3, 2022
*escaped murderer Gonzalo Lopez might be responsible for 5 new murders near Centerville
*concerned relative called authorities after not hearing from household
*Lopez might be driving '99 white Chevy pickup
More after #NBAFinals on @25NewsKXXV pic.twitter.com/L0sWguY5re
Just before 9 p.m., the Texas Department of Criminal Justice reported law enforcement officers discovered the bodies of two adults and three children in a residence within the "search perimeter."
A 1999 white Chevrolet Silverado, license plate DPV4520, was missing from the residence. It is believed that the escaped inmate, Gonzalo Lopez, may be driving the vehicle and may be armed.— TDCJ (@TDCJ) June 3, 2022
A news conference is scheduled for "later tonight" in Centerville. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice and Texas Department of Public Safety are expected to join the Leon County Sheriff's Office.
"It is believed that escaped inmate, Gonzalo Lopez, may be driving the vehicle and may be armed," the TDCJ post said.
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25 News will continue to update this story as information becomes available.