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Convicted murderer who escaped prison bus got out of restraints and cage before stabbing driver, Texas officials say

Search underway after convicted murderer escapes
Manhunt underway after convicted murderer escapes prison bus 01:32

A convicted murderer who escaped from a transport bus last week got out of his restraints and a caged area before stabbing the driver, authorities said. Gonzalo Lopez, 46, is still on the run. 

Lopez, who was serving a life sentence, was being transported to a medical appointment on May 12 in a caged area of the bus designated for high-risk inmates, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said in a statement that offered new details on the escape. The agency also released new surveillance images of Lopez taken on the morning of the escape.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice is releasing new photos of escapee Gonzalo Lopez. The pictures were taken from...

Posted by Texas Department of Criminal Justice on Wednesday, May 18, 2022

As Lopez was being transported, he somehow freed himself from his hand and leg restraints, cut through the expanded metal of the cage and crawled out the bottom, the department said. He then attacked the driver, who stopped the bus and got into an altercation with Lopez, the department said. They both eventually got off the bus. 

At some point the driver was stabbed and wounded in the hand and chest, said Jason Clark, chief of staff for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. He said the driver's wounds weren't life threatening.

A second officer at the rear of the bus then exited and approached Lopez, who got back on the bus and started driving down the road, the department said.

The officers fired at Lopez and disabled the bus by shooting the rear tire, the department said. The bus then traveled a short distance before leaving the roadway, where Lopez got out and ran into the woods, according to the department. 

Melanie Tieperman was with her son when they came upon the bus crash and saw Lopez escaping, KHOU-TV reported. A video given to KAGS NEWS by Tieperman appears to show Lopez running into the woods.

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

Lopez, who was convicted in 2006 of killing a man along the Texas-Mexico border, escaped in Leon County, a rural area between Dallas and Houston, authorities said. Several law enforcement agencies are involved in the search, which has included aircraft and teams horseback and canine teams.

Leon County has roughly 16,000 residents. and is about 50 miles north of the state's prison headquarters in Huntsville.

Lopez was being transported from a lockup in Gatesville, more than 100 miles west of the area where he escaped, to one in Huntsville, about 50 miles south of that area.

The reward for information leading to Lopez's capture has increased to $50,000.

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