Texas inmate Gonzalo Lopez, who escaped from a prison bus, dies in gunfight

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A Texas inmate who escaped a prison bus last month died in a shootout with law enforcement officers Thursday night, hours after he was suspected of murdering an adult and four minors at their weekend home, authorities said.

Last month, 46-year-old Gonzalo Artemio Lopez, who was serving a life sentence for a 2005 capital murder and 2004 attempted murder, escaped custody in Leon County, between Dallas and Houston. When Lopez was transported to a medical appointment on May 12, authorities said he broke out of his restraints, stabbed the bus driver and eventually drove off on the bus. He escaped after crashing into a cow pasture.

For weeks, police officers searched the area in vain. Then, on Thursday, authorities discovered the bodies of an adult and four minors in a residence off Highway 7 in Leon County, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. A 1999 white Chevy Silverado was missing from the residence, and officials said they believed Lopez killed the residents and fled the area in the truck.

Hours after the discovery, law enforcement officers spotted Lopez in the truck about 460 miles away in Atascosa County, south of San Antonio. After a vehicle chase, Lopez crashed, exited the truck and fired at the officers, TDCJ authorities said. He was killed when they returned fire, according to officials.

According to the TDCJ, Lopez was armed with an AR-15 rifle and handgun.

TDCJ Chief of Staff Jason Clark told reporters Thursday night that “we’re breathing a sigh of relief that Lopez won’t be able to hurt anyone else.”

Authorities have not released the names or ages of the victims or said how they were killed. Clark said they were from the Houston area and had just arrived Thursday at the residence, which he described as a weekend home.

Officers had scoured the area looking for Lopez since he escaped, Clark said, and had evacuated the home “several times” before finding the victims’ bodies there around 6 p.m. Thursday, leading authorities to believe Lopez had entered the residence.” recently.” There’s no evidence that Lopez and the victims knew each other, Clark said.

While on the run, Lopez was able to “stay in the woods, enter a residence to get water and food, and possibly change his clothes,” Clark said.

He added during a separate briefing that it was unclear whether Lopez was already in the house where he allegedly killed the five victims or whether he “wrapped the building and just waited for someone to come in.”

It’s likely that the weapons Lopez wielded during the shooting came from the residence, Clark said.

In 2006, Lopez was convicted of capital murder after kidnapping a man on drug debt and killing him with a pickaxe, The Washington Post reported. He was also convicted of attempted capital murder for firing gunshots at a Webb County sheriff’s deputy in 2004. Lopez was serving a life sentence and was not eligible for parole until April 2045.

Convicted killer escapes after allegedly stabbing bus driver

On May 12, while on a transport bus that traveled 160 miles between Gatesville and Huntsville, Lopez somehow broke free, made his way into a metal cage-like area where the driver was and stabbed the driver. driver down, according to the TDCJ. After driving a short distance on the bus, Lopez crashed into the cow pasture and ran away. The bus driver’s injuries were not life-threatening.

An extensive manhunt ensued involving approximately 300 law enforcement officers, and a $50,000 reward was offered for information leading to Lopez’s arrest. The search, which the TDCJ described as “exhaustive,” turned up nothing until Thursday, when the bodies were found. Hours later, law enforcement officers saw Lopez driving the white Silverado in Jourdanton, Tex.

On Thursday night, officers in Jourdanton began tracking Lopez in the pickup and nailing the tires, Clark said. After a brief chase in a residential area, Clark said, Lopez crashed into a tree, got out of the truck and eventually fired “multiple shots” at the officers.

“And those officers shot and killed Lopez very quickly, ending this whole ordeal,” Clark said, adding that none of the officers were injured. Clark said the TDCJ was notified that Lopez had been killed around 10:30 p.m.

Asked by a reporter whether the TDCJ had abandoned the five dead victims, Clark said the agency “will conduct a serious incident review to determine exactly how this escape occurred.”

“Every time you have something so serious, it’s our duty to back off and find out how he escaped? How did he go beyond our safety protocols to get out of that transport vehicle?” Clark added. “And so that’s something we’re definitely going to do.”

Timothy Bella contributed to this report.

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