A manhunt for convicted murderer Gonzalo Lopez, one of Texas’ most wanted fugitives, ended Thursday night when he was fatally shot by law enforcement after killing five members of the same family, including four children.
It was a dramatic and tragic end to a nearly three-week search for one of the state’s most dangerous criminals, who escaped from a prison bus on May 13 after attacking the driver. Here’s how it started, and how it ended.
Timeline of Gonzalo Lopez’s escape, fatal shootout
1996: Lopez was convicted of two counts of aggravated assault and was sentenced to eight years in Texas state prison.
2006: Lopez was convicted of capital murder and aggravated kidnapping in Hidalgo County, Texas, and sentenced to life in prison.
2007: Lopez, who was reportedly involved with the Mexican Mafia, was convicted of attempted capital murder in Webb County, Texas, and given a second life sentence.
Gonzalo Lopez's tattoos (Photos: U.S. Marshals Service)
May 12, 2022: Lopez was being transported from the Hughes Unit in Gatesville, Texas, to the Estelle Unit in Huntsville for a medical appointment. He was in a separate, caged area of the bus reserved for high-risk inmates when he got out of his restraints, cut through the expanded metal, crawled out through the bottom of the cage, and attacked the driver.
Police said Lopez stabbed him in the hand with an unknown object. Lopez, the driver and another officer got out of the bus, then Lopez got back in and started driving. Officers shot the back tire and disabled the bus. That’s when Lopez got out and ran into a wooded area.
May 13, 2022: Lopez is added to the Texas 10 Most Wanted Fugitives list.
May 14, 2022: A $50,000 reward is offered for information leading to Lopez’s arrest. Some 300 law enforcement officers join the manhunt for Lopez.
June 2, 2022: Police officers got a call from a concerned family member who said they had not heard from an older relative. That led officers to a rural cabin near Centerville in Leon County, in the same area where Lopez had escaped the bus.
Authorities went to the home and found a family — including four children — dead. Four children from the Houston area were staying with their grandfather in the weekend cabin they owned. They arrived Thursday morning and are believed to have been killed that afternoon. Authorities don’t yet know whether Lopez had been staying in the cabin and whether he ambushed them upon their arrival. He had no known ties to the family.
Later that night, about 220 miles away from the cabin, police encountered a truck that appeared to match the stolen Silverado's description. They followed it, staying behind so as to not alert him of their presence, then used spike strips to flatten the truck’s tires, authorities said. But Lopez was still able to keep driving and stick his rifle out the window and fire several shots at officers before he hit two telephone poles and a fence chased the vehicle. A brief gunshot ensued before officers shot and killed Lopez.
When he was shot, Lopez had an AR-15 type rifle and a pistol that may have been stolen from the cabin.
This story was reported from Seattle. The Associated Press and FOX 26 Houston contributed.