A Texas inmate serving life in prison managed to break free from his shackles, overpower a transport bus driver and escape on Thursday. Officials have announced the reward for information leading to the capture of the inmate has reached $50,000.
Gonzalo Lopez, 46, was on a transport bus en route from Gatesville to Huntsville for a medical appointment when he escaped in Leon County, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Robert Hurst, a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, told reporters there were two officers on the bus at the time of the escape. One officer stood at the front of the bus, while the other officer stood at the back of the bus armed with a shotgun.
Lopez “was somehow able to get out of his shackles and get into the driver’s compartment of the bus,” Hurst said.
“He used some type of device, we don’t know what some type of device, to cut out the bottom of the door,” he said.
After a struggle with the driver, the bus went off the road. During their fight, the officer driving the bus was stabbed in the hand and punctured in the chest, suffering non-life-threatening injuries, according to Hurst.
The officer in the back of the bus fired two shots into the rear wheels of the bus, he said. Lopez was able to drive the bus for about 1 mile with the flat tires before he crashed, Hurst said. Lopez then jumped off the bus and fled, Hurst added.
Lopez is serving a life sentence for a capital murder in Hidalgo County and an attempted capital murder in Webb County, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said. The murder was committed with a pickaxe, Hurst said.
Leon County is about 130 miles south of Dallas. The Leon County Sheriff’s Office urged local residents to lock their homes and cars. Anyone who sees Lopez is asked to call 911 and not approach him.
A $15,000 reward initially had been offered for information leading to his capture, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said. The reward increased to $22,500 Friday night, then more than doubled to $50,000, the department announced Saturday night.