‘Not to be reckoned with’: Reward offered in hopes of capturing escaped inmate who murdered man with pick-axe after unpaid ransom

CENTERVILLE, Texas – A $22,500 reward is now being offered for info leading to the capture of an inmate who escaped after he stabbed a correctional officer and stole a Texas Department of Criminal Justice transport bus on Thursday afternoon, according to the Leon County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies said the inmate, 46-year-old Gonzalo Lopez, remains on the run after crashing the stolen bus about two miles away from Centerville near Highway 7.

Lopez is currently serving a life sentence for capital murder out of Hidalgo County and attempted capital murder out of Webb County.

🚨 Alert 🚨 Recent Update: 5/13/22 3:00 PM Suspect still at large. Numerous agencies still working together to apprehend...

Posted by Leon County Sheriff's Office on Thursday, May 12, 2022

According to Robert Hurst, TDCJ public information officer, Lopez, and 15 other inmates were aboard a medical transport bus traveling from the Hughes Unit in Gatesville to Huntsville. Two correctional officers were also on board, and one of them was driving.

Hurst explained, around 1:20 p.m., as the bus was heading eastbound on Highway 7, Lopez somehow gained access into the driver’s compartment of the bus. He began struggling with the driver of the bus, who pulled the bus over to the side of the road, and the two carried the fight outside.

There was another officer in the back of the bus, armed with a shotgun. That officer got out through the emergency door and fired two shots into the rear tires to disable the bus.

At that moment, Lopez got back onto the bus and drove it for about a mile down the road with the flattened back tires.

He then lost control of the vehicle and went off the side of the road.

The correctional officers managed to catch up to the bus and fired shots at Lopez as he ran across a cow pasture, but they do not believe he was hit.

One officer was stabbed in the hand and the chest during the fight with Lopez. His injuries were considered non-life-threatening.

The other 15 inmates did not escape.

“Gonzalo Lopez is out there somewhere, we are continuing our search for him,” Hurst said. “He is a very dangerous person. He killed a man in 2005 with a pick-axe after kidnapping the man and asking for a ransom for his return. When that was not done, he killed the man. He also had an accomplice and we still do not know who that was.”

On Friday morning, authorities announced a reward for his capture. Authorities caution, however, that no one should try to apprehend him.

“If you see him, do not attempt to take him into custody by yourself. Contact 911 and have local law enforcement deal with him. He is someone not to be reckoned with by yourself,” Hurst said.

Anyone with information is urged to call TDCJ OIG Crime Stoppers at 1-800-832-8477 or 936-437-5171 or your local law enforcement agency at 911. You can also leave a tip via the website.