Photo courtesy of Atascosa County Sheriff's Office/Facebook
June 3 (UPI) -- Authorities said late Thursday that an escaped Texas inmate who has led law enforcement on a nearly monthlong manhunt has been killed by police in a shootout.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice said it was informed at about 10:30 p.m. that Gonzalo Lopez had been shot dead by police in the city of Jourdanton, which is located about 40 miles south of San Antonio.
Law enforcement have been hunting Lopez, 46, since May 12 when the convicted murderer escaped police custody. Authorities said he stabbed and overpowered the driver of a transport bus as it was traveling in Leon County between Dallas and Houston.
The manhunt intensified Thursday after authorities found the bodies of a family of five, including four children, in a Leon County home within the search perimeter law enforcement had erected in its scouring for Lopez.
Jason Clark, chief of staff for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, told reporters in an evening press conference, that the residence was a weekend home for the family and that officers found the bodies after being called to the residence on Highway 7 by a concerned relative at about 6 p.m.
During the search, investigators found evidence pointing to Lopez being responsible for the murders, which Clark said were believed to have occurred that afternoon.
Clark said police were then on the search for a white 1999 Chevrolet Silverado that they believed Lopez stole from the residence.
"We will not rest until Gonzalo Lopez is in custody. A massive manhunt is underway by local, state and federal officials to track his movements and bring him into custody. Please know that he cannot run forever and I would urge Lopez to give up at this time because he will be brought to justice," Clark said.
A few hours later, police in the city of Jourdanton, Atascosa County -- which is about 250 miles southwest of Leon County where the bodies were found -- identified the pickup and trailed it. Authorities were able to spike the vehicle's tires, and Lopez then led police on a short chase before he crashed into a tree, Clark said in a late Thursday press conference.
Lopez then exited the vehicle armed with an AR-15 assault rifle and a pistol and engaged police in a firefight who shot and killed the escaped convict, Clark said, adding that though Lopez fired "several rounds" at police no officer was injured.
"We are very sadden that the murders happened but I will tell you that we are breathing a sigh of relief that Lopez will not be able to hurt anyone else," Clark said.
When he escaped, Lopez was serving a life sentence for murder after being convicted in 2006 of killing a man along the Texas-Mexico border.
Authorities in Texas had offered a $22,500 reward for information leading to his capture.