A Texas fugitive died in a shootout with authorities hours after he killed five members of a Texas family at their cabin, officials said overnight. Gonzalo Lopez, 46, who was serving life sentences for separate capital murder and attempted murder cases, escaped from a prison transport bus last month while on the way to a medical appointment. The weeks-long search ended in bloody fashion in the city of Jourdanton.
The family, reportedly from Houston, Texas, was staying at their cabin near the Leon County city of Centerville.
“While investigating leads inside the search perimeter, law enforcement agencies received a call from an individual who had become concerned after not hearing from an elderly relative,” the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said in a statement on Thursday night.
Law enforcement found the bodies of five people in the home. A 1999 white Chevrolet Silverado was missing, they said.
“It is believed that escaped inmate, Gonzalo Lopez, may be driving the vehicle and may be armed,” authorities wrote.
Authorities have not named the victims, only describing them as an adult and four minors. Law enforcement believes that family had been there at the cabin on Thursday, but they were unclear on whether Lopez was already hiding at the residence, Chief of Staff Jason Clark of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice told reporters in a press conference.
Law enforcement in Atascosa County spotted the Chevy truck, Clark said. Authorities trailed him and spiked the tires of the vehicle, he said. There was a short chase and crash, he said. Lopez, who was armed with an AR-15 and a pistol, fired several rounds at authorities, who shot back and fatally wounded him, Clark said.
“He went down there and struck a telephone pole,” Atascosa County Sheriff David Soward said, according to KFSN. “Bounced off and went down and crashed into a telephone pole and a fence. He exited his truck, fired additional rounds, at least four officers returned fire.”
Clark said he was not sure which weapon Lopez used in the shootout. Authorities are working under the assumption that those guns came from the family cabin.
Lopez has been confirmed deceased, & no law enforcement officers were reported to be harmed during the exchange.
— TDCJ (@TDCJ) June 3, 2022
Authorities suggest Lopez spent his time on the run by hiding in the woods, and going into homes for water, food, and clothes.
He fled from a prison transport bus on May 12, heading from lockup in Gatesville to Huntsville for a medical appointment, officials have said.
Lopez allegedly got out of his hand and leg restraints, cut through the cage, and crawled out the bottom. He attacked the driver. The driver stopped the vehicle, and they got into a fight, eventually getting out, authorities said. A second officer at the rear of the vehicle also got out, and approached Lopez, but Lopez drove the bus away, authorities said. Though officers managed to disable the bus by shooting a rear tire, Lopez fled on foot into the woods, authorities said. During this encounter, he allegedly stabbed the driver.
Meanwhile, locals are reportedly voicing anger at Lopez’s escape, especially in light of him allegedly killing five people as a result.
“I am angry. I am angry at TDCJ for leaving us vulnerable. And they’re negligent for allowing this man to escape.”
Residents in Leon County, TX are furious with the Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice after escapee Gonzalo Lopez killed a family of 5. They’re demanding accountability. pic.twitter.com/7KSVZKd8hs
— Brian Entin (@BrianEntin) June 3, 2022
“I can’t imagine the grief and suffering that they’re going through, and so my words would fall flat,” Clark said when asked about the family.
The agency will review protocols, he said.
“As I said earlier, we will conduct a serious incident review,” Clark told reporters. “Any time you have something serious like this, it’s incumbent upon us to go backwards to figure out, ‘How did he escape? How did he beat our security protocols in order to leave with that transport vehicle?'”
[Image via Texas Department of Criminal Justice]
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