A manhunt was underway on Saturday for an inmate who escaped from a prison transport bus and allegedly stabbed a corrections officer Thursday afternoon in Texas – and authorities are offering a $22,500 reward for any information leading to his capture.
Gonzalo Lopez, 46, who is serving a life sentence for murder, was traveling on a bus with 15 other inmates from Huntsville to Gatesville, about 160 miles away, when the attack unfolded, said the US Marshals Service in a press release on Friday.
According to officials, Lopez “managed to free herself from her bonds and use an object to stab the bus driver.” Outside the bus, a struggle with a corrections officer ensued and Lopez was able to gain control of the officer’s handgun, but he was “unable to remove it from the holster”.
Lopez attempted to drive off with the bus, but a second corrections officer fired at the rear tires of the vehicle. “He only traveled about a mile before he lost control and crashed. He then took off in a nearby field,” law enforcement officials said, adding that no other inmates escaped from the bus.
More than 300 law enforcement personnel, including members of the FBI, are searching for Lopez, who escaped to Leon County, a rural area between Houston and Dallas.
“I can’t stress enough how dangerous this man is and how much the public’s assistance is needed to locate him,” Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Robert Hurst said Friday.
“We don’t know if he got any weapon,” Hurst added. “The last time we saw him he didn’t seem to have a weapon in his possession, but who knows what he might have gotten.”
“If anyone has seen it, if anyone has reason to believe it was on their property, please contact local law enforcement authorities through 911.”
Authorities said Lopez was affiliated with the Mexican Mafia and had ties to the Rio Grande Valley and San Antonio areas.
In 1996, he was convicted of aggravated assault and received two eight-year sentences. Lopez is currently serving two life sentences for shooting a sheriff’s deputy in Webb County in 2004 and for killing a man with a pickaxe in Hidalgo County in 2005, after holding him for ransom on a $40,000 drug debt he owed the cartel.
Lopez was added to Texas’ most wanted fugitives list on Friday. Together, the US Marshal Service, Texas Department of Criminal Justice and Texas Department of Public Safety are offering a total of $22,500 in rewards for information leading to his arrest.
Officials have warned that Lopez is “armed and dangerous.” He is described as a 6-foot-tall Hispanic male, weighing around 185 pounds.
Anyone with information is encouraged to complete this Department of Criminal Justice advice form or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-832-8477 or 936-437-5171, or dial 911.