Texas law enforcement expands search for inmate who escaped from prison bus

LEON COUNTY, Texas (FOX 44) — The Texas Department of Criminal Justice said the search for escapee Gonzalo Lopez, 46, is entering a new, expanded phase.

The TDCJ, the Office of Inspector General (OIG), along with numerous law enforcement agencies, have concluded an extensive ground and aerial search in Leon County, they said.

A contingent of personnel will remain in the county and conduct strategic searches in areas outside of the original secure perimeter. The renewed goal of the OIG, Texas Rangers and US Marshals is to spare no effort as they follow leads and track Lopez’s whereabouts.

“Anyone who knows Lopez’s location should come forward,” Inspector General Cris Love said. “Those who help or harbor him will not only be arrested and prosecuted, but I believe they are putting themselves in danger. Lopez has complete disregard for human life and will do whatever it takes to avoid capture. We’ll take this investigation wherever it takes us until Lopez is back in custody.

Gonzalo Lopez, 46 (Courtesy TDCJ)

US Marshals say he was on a transport bus with 15 other inmates and two guards en route from Gatesville to Huntsville, Texas. They report that Lopez was able to free herself from her restraints during this transport.

Federal law enforcement said Lopez used “an object” to stab bus driver Officer Randy Smith, who is expected to survive. He was then able to “briefly” get hold of Smith’s handgun, but was unable to free it from the holster, US Marshals said in a statement. At one point, the guards and Lopez found themselves outside the bus.

The second guard, Officer Jimmie Brinegar, fired at the rear tires of the bus before Lopez got back on and tried to leave, they said. He then covered about a mile before crashing and continuing on foot.

Lopez has been added to Texas’ 10 most wanted fugitives list, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Those with information about the suspect can call TDCJ OIG Crime Stoppers at 1-800-832-8477 or 936-437-5171. Lopez is approximately 6-foot-0, weighs 190 pounds, and was last seen wearing white clothing in a wooded area near Highway 7 in Leon County. A $50,000 reward is being offered for information leading to Lopez’s capture.

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