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Escaped Texas Inmate, Suspected Of Killing A Family Of Five While On The Run, Dead After Shootout With Authorities

Authorities say convicted murderer Gonzalo Lopez, who is suspected of killing one adult and four minor children at their weekend cabin in Centerville, then stealing their truck, died following a chase and shootout.

By Jill Sederstrom
A police handout of Gonzalo Lopez

A Texas inmate who escaped a prison bus last month was killed Thursday night during a shootout with officers after authorities say he killed a family of five, including four minor children, while on the run.

The dramatic end came Thursday after law enforcement officers in Atascosa County spotted Gonzalo Lopez in a stolen vehicle and disabled the truck using spike strips, according to a statement from The Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Lopez, who had allegedly stolen the vehicle from the slain family in Centerville, crashed the truck and exchanged gunfire with authorities in Jourdanton, Texas.

"He fired several rounds at officers and was armed with an AR-15 and a pistol," Jason Clark with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said at a news conference Thursday night, according to CNN.

During the exchange, Lopez, a convicted murderer with alleged ties to the Mexican Mafia, was shot to death around 10:30 p.m.

Officials have said no law enforcement officers were injured in the gunfire.

The shootout occurred about 220 miles southwest of Centerville, where authorities believe Lopez killed the Houston family at their weekend cabin before stealing a farm truck, according to The Associated Press.

A police handout of Gonzalo Lopez's vehicle

The family’s bodies were discovered after authorities received a call from an individual who had become concerned after not hearing from an elderly relative. Authorities responded to the home and discovered the bodies, according to The Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

While investigators initially reported that two adults and three children had been killed, they later revised that assessment, saying the victims included one adult and four minors.

The identities of the victims have not been released, but investigators have said the victims had no connection to Lopez, who allegedly broke into the home while on the run.

“Lopez is obviously a killer. He has a disregard for human life,” Clark said, who described the Centerville property as a “weekend residence” for the family, according to CNN.

Lopez, 46,  was being transported in a prison bus to a medical appointment in Huntsville on May 12 when he somehow managed to get out of his restraints, cut through a metal cage for “high-risk inmates,” crawl out of the bottom of the cage and attack a prison bus driver, authorities said previously

The bus driver stopped the bus and got into an altercation with Lopez, which eventually spilled outside. Lopez stabbed the driver, who sustained non-life-threatening injuries in the attack.

A second officer, who had been at the rear of the bus, exited and approached Lopez, who got back into the bus and drove away.

The officer managed to shoot out a rear tire on the bus, causing the bus to leave the roadway. Lopez hopped out of the vehicle and ran into the woods off Highway 7 in Leon County.

For weeks, authorities scoured the area searching for Lopez.

“He’s crafty,” Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Robert Hurst said at the time, according to KHOU. “He’s done this before down in South Texas; in Webb County he hid out almost nine days.”

Lopez had a lengthy criminal record. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety—who had named Lopez as one of its 10 Most Wanted Fugitives—he was convicted in 1996 of two counts of aggravated assault. In 2006, he was convicted of capital murder and aggravated kidnapping and sentenced to life in prison.

The following year, he received another life sentence for a conviction for attempted capital murder.

"He's got a life sentence for a capital murder, where he killed a man with a pickaxe and he's also gotten an attempted capital murder conviction for shooting a gun at a police officer," Hurst said at an earlier press conference.

A police handout of Gonzalo Lopez

Authorities said Lopez, who had been described as “very dangerous,” was affiliated with the Mexican Mafia.

Hurst told Oxygen.com Friday morning he could no longer comment on the case and said the crime scenes were now being handled by the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Leon County Sheriff’s Office.

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