The reward for a missing inmate climbed to $50,000, days after he overpowered the driver of a bus bringing him to a doctor’s appointment and then escaped from custody.
The search for Gonzalo Lopez continued in Texas on Tuesday, with multiple officers across several agencies combing through an area off an interstate in Leon County. The 46-year-old prisoner, who was convicted in 2006 of killing another man along the Texas-Mexico border, managed to wiggle out of his restraints on Thursday and then attacked the officer driving the vehicle with a sharp unknown object.
Lopez “was somehow able to get out of his shackles and get into the driver’s compartment of the bus,” Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Robert Hurst said. He managed to cut out the bottom of the door separating inmates and the driver, Hurst continued, adding that Lopez “used some type of device,” but what exactly remained unclear.
A brief struggle ensued between the two before the bus crashed around 1:20 p.m. on Texas State Highway 7, about a mile and a half from Centerville. During their fight, the officer driving the bus was stabbed in the hand and punctured in the chest, though his injuries appear to be non-life-threatening, Hurst said.
A second officer onboard the vehicle fired off several shots at its back tires in a bid to prevent Lopez from taking control of the bus. When it finally crashed, the convicted killer fled on foot, drawing more gunfire as he raced through a cow pasture.
The other 15 prisoners on the bus at the time did not leave the vehicle and remain in custody.
“We do not know if he has obtained any kind of a weapon,” Hurst said. “Last we saw him he did not appear to have a weapon in his possession, but who knows what he might’ve been able to get.”
Authorities initially offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to Lopez’s capture. The pot grew to $22,500 Friday night and has since more than doubled to $50,000.
The Texas Department of Public Safety also added Lopez to the state’s 10 Most Wanted Fugitives List following his escape.