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Texas escapee cut metal, crawled under bus cage to attack driver, officials say

The manhunt for a convicted killer who cut a metal plate on a prison bus to attack and stab the driver and escape dragged on into his seventh day on Wednesday, officials said .

New surveillance video photos of Gonzalo Lopez, 46, who authorities say escaped to Leon County last Thursday after briefly taking control of the bus, were released Wednesday by the Department of Criminal Justice from Texas.

“Everything we currently know indicates he is still in that area,” said Robert Hurst, a public information officer for the department.

Escaped inmate Gonzalo Lopez, 46, assaulted a correctional officer on a transport bus and then fled the vehicle, authorities say.Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Lopez, who is serving a life sentence for murder and attempted murder, broke free from his restraints, cut metal and crawled under a cage before attacking the driver as the bus pulled up west of Centerville, the department said.

He stabbed the driver in the hand and they ended up outside the bus in a physical fight, officials said.

Lopez then got back on the bus and began driving, and officers shot the rear tire before the bus left the freeway, officials said. Lopez got out and fled into a wooded area, the Criminal Justice Department said.

“We don’t know what he used” to cut through the metal area and crawl into the driver’s compartment, Hurst said. He said investigators were talking to the two prison officers and other inmates who were on the bus to find out more.

Texas escapee cut metal, crawled under bus cage to attack driver, officials say

More than 300 law enforcement officers are involved in the search area, which has a perimeter of about 5 square miles, Hurst said. The area, described as rural, with farms and ranches, lies halfway between Houston and Dallas.

A $50,000 reward was also offered for information leading to Lopez’s capture. Anyone who sees a suspicious person is asked to call the police.

On the day of his escape, Lopez was being taken from the Gatesville jail to Huntsville for a medical appointment, officials said.

Other detainees on the bus remained strapped in, officials said. Lopez was in a separate cage area for high-security inmates, the Criminal Justice Department said.

A second officer was in a rear area also separated by a door, Hurst said. When the escape attempt began, the officer exited the back door and approached Lopez, who got back on the bus and began driving, the department said.

Lopez was convicted in 2006 of kidnapping a man and killing him with a pickaxe in Hidalgo County in 2005, according to court documents, and he was sentenced to life in prison.

Jason Clark, the Criminal Justice Department’s chief of staff, said Lopez was convicted of the man’s murder after a ransom was not paid and he had a history with gangs in the United States. States and Mexico.

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