Search continues for Texas inmate who escaped prison bus

May 12, 2022, 5:04 PM | Updated: May 13, 2022, 6:36 pm

This undated photo provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice shows Gonzalo Lopez. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) is searching for Lopez, an escaped inmate in Leon County Thursday, May 12, 2022. Lopez assaulted a correctional officer on a transport bus and then fled from the vehicle. (Texas Department of Criminal Justice via AP)

(TDCJ)

CENTERVILLE, Texas (AP) — Authorities were searching Friday for a Texas inmate serving a life sentence for murder who escaped from a transport bus after stabbing the driver.

Gonzalo Lopez, 46, escaped custody Thursday after he overpowered the driver, whose injuries were not considered life-threatening, said Jason Clark, chief of staff for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

The department said Friday that a $22,500 reward was being offered for information leading to the capture of Lopez.

Lopez was convicted in 2006 of killing a man along the Texas-Mexico border.

Lopez escaped in Leon County, a rural area between Dallas and Houston. Classes in the nearby Centerville Independent School District were canceled Friday as a precaution.

The Leon County Sheriff’s Office said several agencies were involved in the search, including aircraft from the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Sixteen prisoners were aboard the bus, but no one else escaped, Clark said.

Leon County has roughly 16,000 residents and is about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of the state’s prison headquarters.

Prison records show Lopez was most recently being held at a lockup in Gatesville, more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) from where authorities were searching.

Other prisoners in Texas have also escaped transport vehicles over the years. Among the most recent was in 2019 when an MMA fighter suspected of killing two people fled from a van and was missing for nine hours. Authorities said he was eventually found hiding in a trash can.

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Search continues for Texas inmate who escaped prison bus