(NewsNation) — On the heels of an 11-day statewide manhunt in Alabama that ended with a car chase, crash and the death of a female corrections officer, another manhunt is underway for a dangerous escaped inmate — this time in Texas.
Investigators are searching for Gonzalo Lopez. The Texas Department of Public Safety identified Lopez as an affiliate of the Mexican Mafia, a violent gang often in control of other gangs to the point of “taxing” them for being on their territory.
According to the Texas Department of Justice, Lopez made his escape Thursday while on his way from Gatesville, Texas, to a medical appointment in Huntsville, Texas.
Somehow as the prison bus was traveling along State Highway 7 in Leon County, officials say Lopez got out of his handcuffs and shackles and went for the driver’s area of the prison bus.
The driver of the bus put up a fight.
But officials say Lopez stabbed the officer in the hand before the officer pulled the bus to the side of the road. Lopez and the officer jumped out of the bus and kept fighting, while another officer in the back of the bus fired two gunshots into the back tires of the bus.
From there, the Texas Department of Justice says Lopez hopped back on the bus and drove it full of 15 other inmates another mile down the road. Eventually, investigators reported that Lopez lost control of the bus and ran into a cow pasture.
Fortunately, no other inmates escaped custody.
Gonzalo Artemio Lopez, 46, is on the Texas 10 Most Wanted Fugitives List. He is now wanted for escape and aggravated assault of a public servant.
In 1996, the Texas Department of Public Safety says Lopez was convicted of two counts of aggravated assault and sentenced to eight years in prison.
In 2006, he was convicted of capital murder and aggravated kidnapping in Hidalgo County and sentenced to life in prison. The following year, he received a second life sentence after being convicted of attempted capital murder in Webb County.
Investigators report that Lopez is from the Rio Grande Valley area and has ties to Weslaco, Mercedes and San Antonio. The Texas Department of Public Safety said he is an affiliate of the Mexican Mafia.
Lopez is described as being 6 feet tall, about 185 lbs. with tattoos on his back, abdomen and chest. Authorities also say he has a burn scar on the right side of his neck.
Texas authorities are continuing to investigate how Lopez escaped his shackles and handcuffs and took over the prison bus.
The manhunt for Lopez continues. Officers were on horseback Sunday scouring rural areas for him as investigators are narrowing their search area.
They believe Lopez may still be hiding in the brush somewhere.
A $50,000 reward for information leading to Lopez’s arrest has been offered. To be eligible for the reward, the Texas Department of Safety says tipsters must give authorities information in one of the following ways:
- Call the Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-252-TIPS (8477).
- Submit a web tip through the DPS website by selecting the fugitive you have information about and then clicking on the link under their picture.
- Submit a Facebook tip by clicking the “SUBMIT A TIP” link (under the “About” section).
Texas 10 Most Wanted fugitives are considered armed and dangerous. Anyone who sees Lopez is urged not to approach him, but instead call 911.