A manhunt was underway on Saturday for an inmate who escaped from a prison transport bus and allegedly stabbed a correctional officer in Texas on Thursday afternoon – and authorities are offering a $22,500 reward for any information leading to his arrest.
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 a 160-mile trip, when the attack unfolded, the U.S. Marshals Service said in a news release Friday .
According to officials, Lopez “managed to free himself from his restraints and stab the bus driver with an object.” Outside the bus, a fight ensued with a correctional officer, and Lopez was able to control the officer’s gun — but he was “unable to remove it from the holster.”
Lopez tried to get away on the bus, but a second correctional officer shot the vehicle’s rear tires. “He only made it about a mile before he lost control and fell. Then he ran away to a nearby field,” the police officers said, adding that no other passengers escaped from the bus.
More than 300 law enforcement officers, including members of the FBI, are searching for Lopez, who escaped custody in Leon County, a rural area between Houston and Dallas.
“I cannot reiterate enough how dangerous this man is and how the public’s help is needed to locate him,” Texas Department of Justice spokesman Robert Hurst said Friday.
“We don’t know if he procured any type of weapon,” Hurst added. “The last time we saw him, he didn’t seem to have a gun on him, but who knows what he might have gotten.”
“If anyone saw him, if anyone has reason to believe he was on their property, please contact local law enforcement on 911.”
Authorities said Lopez was linked to the Mexican mafia and had ties to the Rio Grande Valley and San Antonio areas.
In 1996 he was convicted of aggravated assault and sentenced to eight years in prison twice. Lopez is currently serving two life sentences for shooting a Webb County sheriff’s deputy in 2004 and killing a man with a pickaxe in Hidalgo County in 2005 after holding ransom from him for a $40,000 drug debt , which he owed the cartel.
Lopez was added to Texas’ most wanted fugitive list on Friday. Together, the US Marshal Service, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and the Texas Department of Public Safety are offering a reward totaling $22,500 for information leading to his arrest.
Officials warned that Lopez was “armed and dangerous.” He is described as a 6 foot tall Hispanic male weighing approximately 185 pounds.
Anyone with information is encouraged to fill out this Department of Criminal Justice tip form or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-832-8477 or 936-437-5171 or dial 911.