Escaped Texas Inmate Gonzalo Lopez Is Dead After Being Linked to Deaths of 5 Found in Home

Police believe escaped inmate Gonzalo Lopez, 46, killed three children and two adults just weeks after escaping from a prison bus

Authorities have been searching for Gonzalo Lopez since May 12. (Texas Department of Criminal Justice)
Photo: Texas Department of Criminal Justice

A man who escaped from a Texas prison is dead after being linked to the deaths of three children and two adults earlier in the day.

During a manhunt for Gonzalo Lopez, 46, police "received a call from an individual who became concerned after not hearing from an elderly relative," the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said on Twitter Thursday.

Once at the scene, authorities found the victims' bodies. A 1999 white Chevrolet Silverado with license plate number DPV4520 was missing from the home. Lopez was believed to be in the vehicle and potentially armed.

Late Thursday night, the Leon County Sheriff's Office posted to Facebook, "Suspect Gonzalo Lopez is captured & deceased- more information to follow."

CBS affiliate KBTX reported that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice confirmed Lopez died after a shootout with law enforcement officers in Atascosa County. In a Facebook post from Atascosa County Sheriff David Soward, followers were asked to avoid the area of Highway 16 north and Cypress in Jourdanton

The post added, "No officers injured."

Lopez escaped from a TDCJ prison bus while on the way to a doctor's appointment on May 12, the TDCJ said in a release on Facebook. He managed to break out of hand and leg restraints and cut through a cage before escaping through the bottom. He attacked the bus driver, and they both got off the bus. An altercation ensued, and the driver suffered non-life-threatening stab wounds in his hand and chest, Jason Clark, the TDCJ's chief of staff, told KBTX.

Another officer who was at the back of the bus then got out to confront Lopez. But the escaped inmate hopped in the driver's seat and took off on the bus, according to the TDCJ's release. Responding officers shot at Lopez, causing the bus to veer off the road. Lopez jumped out and ran away on foot into a wooded area in Leon County. He was last seen wearing white clothes.

Sixteen prisoners were also on the bus, but Lopez is the only one who escaped, the department told KBTX.

The TDCJ first alerted the public of Lopez's escape on social media on May 12, stating that he was in prison on a life sentence for capital murder in Hidalgo County and attempted capital murder in Webb County. The next day, the department canceled visitations for several units "until further notice" due to the incident with Lopez (visitations resumed on May 23).

The department also offered a $15,000 reward for anyone who could provide information that would lead to his arrest, later increasing it to $50,000.

"Anyone who has knowledge of Lopez's location should come forward," said Inspector General Cris Love as the department announced it was expanding its search on May 20. "Those found to be helping or harboring him not only will face arrest and prosecution, but I believe they are putting themselves in danger. Lopez has a complete disregard for human life and will do what it takes to avoid capture. We will take this investigation where ever it leads us until Lopez is back in custody."

On May 28, the department shared more photos of Lopez and announced a new app and portal that could be used to provide tips about Lopez.

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The TDCJ tells PEOPLE it has nothing further to add.

This isn't Lopez's first time carrying out a prison escape.

"He's crafty," TDCJ spokesman Robert Hurst previously said, per KHOU. "He's done this before down in South Texas in Webb County he hid out for almost nine days."

He added, "This is a very dangerous man. Back in 2005, he killed someone with a pickax. In 2004, he shot at an officer. If he has that device, whatever he used to cut through the door and also stab the officer, folks need to be aware he may still have that on him."

It hasn't been confirmed if Lopez's escape was an inside job, or if the bus he took was being followed, KHOU said.

"There is no indication that there was anything of a suspicious nature from the time that bus left Gatesville until the time of the accident," Hurst told the outlet.

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