Houston County sheriff urges residents to remain vigilant 3 days into search for escaped killer
Reward for information about Gonzalo Lopez’s whereabouts now at $50K
HOUSTON COUNTY, Texas (KTRE) - Convicted killer Gonzalo Lopez, 46, is still on the run after he crashed a prison bus off State Highway 7 in Centerville and escaped Thursday. The reward for information leading to his capture has been increased to $50,000.
Houston County Sheriff Randy Hargrove said in a Facebook post Saturday that “there is no reason to believe” Lopez would come to that area. Houston County neighbors Leon County, where Centerville is located.
“I spoke with Leon County Sheriff Kevin Ellis at about 12:30 today and at that time TDCJ inmate Gonzalo Lopez had not been captured,” Hargrove said in the Facebook post. “There are several hundred law enforcement personnel on the ground in that area plus air support.”
Hargrove went on to say there is no reason to believe Lopez is in or would come to Houston County, but he urged people to “remain watchful and keep security in mind concerning our homes & vehicles.”
“If you think you may have seen Lopez, please contact my office at 936-544-2862,” Hargrove said in the Facebook post. “Do NOT approach him as he is considered armed & dangerous.”
Hargrove said if he receives any new public information, he will share it with Houston County residents as soon as possible.
A post on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Facebook page stated that Lopez was serving a life sentence for capital murder and attempted capital murder. On May 12, Lopez assaulted TDCJ correctional officers on a prison bus and fled.
According to a KBTX story, law enforcement officials believe Lopez used a homemade weapon to escape his restraints and then used it to assault the correctional officers on the prison bus and take control of it before the crash.
The Facebook post stated that TDCJ personnel. The Office of the Inspector General, Texas Department of Public Safety troopers, and multiple law local and county law enforcement agencies are taking part in the search for Lopez.
Dog teams have been deployed to search more than a four-mile perimeter, the KBTX story stated.
TDCJ Chief of Staff Jason Clark said that Lopez is a dangerous individual, adding that it is obvious from his convictions and his escape that the escaped prison inmate “has a disregard for human life,” the KBTX story stated.
Officials said they believe Lopez is still in Leon County and that his escape was premeditated, the KBTX story stated. Officials are currently looking into whether other inmates or prison staff helped him escape.
Clark said that based on Lopez’s history and previous attempts to get away from law enforcement, they think Lopez will stay put and lay low in the hope that law enforcement will move on to a different area.
“We will not rest until Lopez is caught,” TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier said in the Facebook post. “I want to personally thank all of the agencies who are assisting in this massive search and those agencies that are contributing to the reward. Should you have information on his whereabouts, please contact the Crime Stoppers tip line.”
The TDCJ Facebook post said anyone with any information about Lopez’s whereabouts should call TDCJ OIG Crime Stoppers at 1-800-832-8477 or 9356-437-8477.
Lopez is about 6 feet tall, and he weighs approximately 190 pounds. He was last seen wearing white clothing in a wooded area off of SH 7 in Leon County.
The total reward breakdown includes $35,000 from DPS, $10,000 from the US Marshals Service, and $5,000 from the TDCJ OIG.
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