LEON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — An inmate serving life for capital murder violently escaped from a prison bus Thursday, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and U.S. Marshals reported.
The U.S. Marshals say Gonzalo Lopez, 46, was on a transport bus with 15 other inmates and two guards on their way from Gatesville to Huntsville, Texas. They report Lopez was able to get free from his restraints during that transport.
Lopez has been added to the Texas 10 Most Wanted Fugitives List, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Federal law enforcement said Lopez used “an object” to stab the bus driver, Officer Randy Smith, who is expected to survive. He was then able to “briefly” get ahold of Smith’s handgun, but was not able to free it from the holster, the U.S. Marshals said in a release. At some point, the guards and Lopez ended up outside of the bus.
The second guard, Officer Jimmie Brinegar shot the back tires of the bus before Lopez jumped back in and attempted to drive off, they said. He then drove roughly a mile before crashing and continuing on foot.
Leon County is roughly three hours northeast of Austin. It’s positioned between Houston and Dallas.
There is now a $15,000 reward for information leading to Lopez’ arrest.
Lopez is serving a life sentence for capital murder out of Hidalgo County and attempted capital murder out of Webb County. According to KGNS, Lopez killed a man with a pick ax after kidnapping him for ransom to settle a drug debt. He also was involved in a shooting of a Webb County Sheriff’s Deputy in 2004, the local station reported.
A spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice told KWTX they believe Lopez is still near Centerville. Schools in that area were closed for the day and residents were asked to shelter-in-place.
Law enforcement ask that if you spot Lopez you call 911 and do not approach.
This is a developing story.