A convicted murderer who had been on the loose since murdering the driver of a prison bus last month was shot dead by law enforcement late Thursday after killing a family of five and stealing their truck from a rural weekend cabin, according to a spokeswoman for the Texas prison system.
Gonzalo Lopez, 46, was shot and died around 10:30 p.m. Thursday in Jourdanton, Texas, roughly 35 miles (55 kilometers) south of San Antonio, according to Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesperson Jason Clark.
In a statement, Clark said, “Law enforcement in Atascosa County identified the stolen vehicle, disabled it with spike strips, and gunfire occurred.” According to him, no officers were hurt.
Lopez was killed roughly 220 miles (354 kilometers) southeast of Centerville, Texas, where Clark claimed Lopez murdered a Houston family of five and stole their pickup truck.
Lopez was believed to be hiding near the cabin when officers received a call from a concerned relative who had not heard from an elderly relative, according to Clark.
Officers arrived at the family’s cabin on Texas Route 7 west of Centerville at 6 p.m. Thursday and discovered one adult and four juveniles, three of whom were youngsters. Their identities have not been revealed, but their white pickup truck has vanished, according to Clark. He added Lopez was suspected of driving the truck away from the search area. Lopez claimed to have ties to South Texas and was a former member of the Mexican Mafia prison group.
The family was believed to have arrived at the cabin, which they owned, on Thursday morning, according to Clark. He said the five were killed on Thursday afternoon and had no connection to Lopez.
Since his escape from the prison bus, Lopez, 46, has been the target of a massive search. When he escaped in Leon County, a rural area between Dallas and Houston, he was being transported in a caged area of the bus from a prison in Gatesville, more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) west of where he escaped, to one in Huntsville for a medical appointment, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Centerville is the county seat of Leon County, which has a population of around 16,000 people and is located about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of the state’s prison headquarters in Huntsville.
Lopez allegedly managed to release himself from his hand and leg restraints, cut through the cage’s expanding metal, and crawled to the bottom, according to the police department. He then assaulted the bus driver, who then halted the bus and got into an altercation with Lopez, after which they both got off.
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A second officer disembarked the bus in the back and approached Lopez, who got back on the bus and began driving down the road, according to the police department.
According to the agency, the police shot Lopez and disabled the bus by firing the rear tire. He jumped off the bus and rushed into the bushes after it had proceeded a short distance off the road.
He stabbed the driver during the escape, but the wounds were not life-threatening, according to the police department.
Lopez was serving a life sentence for the murder of a man at the Texas-Mexico border in 2006.