A convicted murderer on the run sincelast month was shot dead by law enforcement late Thursday after he killed a family of five and stole their truck from a rural weekend cabin, a Texas prison system spokesman said.
Gonzalo Lopez, 46, was killed about 10:30 pm Thursday in Jourdanton, Texas, about 35 miles south of San Antonio, said Jason Clark, spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
“Law enforcement in Atascosa County located the stolen vehicle, disabled it with spike strips, and gunfire ensued,” Clark said in a statement. No officers were injured, he said.
Lopez was killed in an exchange of gunfire about 220 miles southwest of Centerville, Texas, where Clark said Lopez had killed a Houston family of five at their cabin and stolen their pickup truck.
The family had been seen alive earlier in the day,.
Lopez was thought to be hiding in the woods in the vicinity of the cabin when officers received a call from someone concerned after not hearing from an elderly relative, Clark said.
“He broke into the residence and committed these murders,” an official told CBS Dallas.
Officers went to the family’s cabin along Texas Route 7 west of Centerville about 6 p.m. Thursday and found the bodies of one adult and four minors, three of them children. Identities weren’t released, but their white pickup truck was gone, Clark said.
Lopez was believed to have driven the truck from the search area, he said.
Lopez was a former member of the Mexican Mafia prison gang and had ties to South Texas, he said.
The family was thought to have arrived Thursday morning at the cabin, which they owned, Clark said. The five are believed to have been killed Thursday afternoon and had no link to Lopez, he said.
Lopez, 46, had been the subject of an intense search since his escape from the prison bus May 12.
He was being transported in a caged area of the bus from a prison in Gatesville, more than 100 miles west of the place where he escaped, to one in Huntsville for a medical appointment when he escaped in Leon County, a rural area between Dallas and Houston, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice has said.
Centerville is the county seat of Leon County, which has roughly 16,000 residents and is about 50 miles north of the state’s Huntsville prison headquarters.
The department has said Lopez somehow, cut through the expanded metal of the cage and crawled from the bottom. He then attacked the driver, who stopped the bus and got into an altercation with Lopez, and they both eventually got off the bus.
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.
At some point during the escape, Lopez stabilized the driver, whose wounds weren’t life-threatening, the department said.
Lopez was serving a life prison sentence for a 2006 conviction of murdering a man along the Texas-Mexico border.
The US Marshals Service released photos showing Lopez’s tattoos last week, CBS Dallas notes, and announced that a combined reward of up to $50,000 was being offered for information leading to his capture.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Robert Hurst remarked to the station. “He’s done this before down in South Texas in Webb County—he hid out for almost nine days.”