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Police fatally shoot Texas inmate on the run suspected of killing family of five

Gonzalo Lopez was serving a life sentence for capital murder and attempted capital murder, when he attacked a prison bus driver on May 12 and escaped in a rural part of Texas.
/ Source: NBC News

The escaped Texas inmate on the run for three weeks was killed in a shootout Thursday after he killed an adult and four children at a home, officials said.

Gonzalo Lopez, 46, had no connection to the family that was found dead in Leon County in east Texas, said Jason Clark, chief of staff for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

He has been missing since May 12 when he stabbed a prison bus driver in the hand and escaped on foot in rural Texas, officials said.

He took a truck from that home, which is about halfway between Dallas and Houston, and law enforcement in Atascosa County, south of San Antonio, spotted it and started following, Clark said.

After the tires were spiked and a short chase, Lopez crashed into a tree. He got out with a gun and shot at officers who fired back and killed Lopez, Clark said.

It was not immediately clear what department the officers who killed Lopez were from, he said. No officers were injured.

Lopez had an AR-15 and a pistol, Clark said, though it was not immediately clear where the firearms came from and which was used in the shootout.

The shootout happened around 10:30 p.m. in the city of Jourdanton, about 250 miles southwest of Leon County, where Lopez escaped last month after stabbing a prison bus driver.

Officials searching for Lopez received a call from a person who had not heard from relatives, and when officers went to the home on Thursday they discovered the bodies, Clark said.

“This is a tragedy that you had five individuals who lost their lives,” Clark said. “I am thankful that tonight Gonzalo Lopez is unable to harm anyone else.”

The family is thought to have arrived Thursday to the house, which was being used as their vacation property, and were slain later in the afternoon, Clark said.

The home on Texas Highway 7, about a quarter mile west of Interstate 45, was inside the perimeter where law enforcement have been searching for Lopez and had been checked and cleared “multiple times,” he said.

He could not say whether authorities had spoken directly with the family, who were from Houston. Their identities have not been released.

The TDCJ initially said the dead included two adults and three children, but in a later update said one adult and four minors were killed.

More than 300 law enforcement officers — on foot and horseback and with dogs and helicopters — had searched for him in the area of ranches and farms in Leon County after he escaped last month.

After nine days of searching, the manhunt entered an “expanded phase“ after Lopez could not be found. But law enforcement maintained a presence in the area because there was no evidence that he had left, Clark said Thursday.

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