A fugitive convict was quickly captured and killed after Texas officials put him in connection with the murder of a family of five Thursday.
A Texas Department of Public Safety (TDPS) official said the bodies of three children and two adults were discovered Thursday in a home near where Gonzalo Lopez had fled on May 12, according to Texas CBS affiliate KBTX. His death was announced a few hours later. Police said they captured Lopez, who was serving a life sentence for murder, three weeks after allegedly cutting through a metal barrier, stabbing a detective and fleeing on foot as he was transported by bus to a medical appointment.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) said in a statement shared on social media Thursday night that the bodies of the five alleged killers were discovered within the Lopez search perimeter, which has been focused on Centerville, a small town located about 120 miles. north of Houston and about 120 south of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Authorities confirmed that Lopez, 46, was suspected of the killings and described him as a “former Mexican mafia gang member” during a news conference.
Shortly after the press conference ended, the Leon County Sheriff’s Office shared that Lopez had been “caught” on social media and promised that “more information” would follow soon. About 20 minutes later, an update to the post noted that Lopez was “dead.”
“While investigating clues within the search perimeter, law enforcement received a call from a person who had become concerned after not hearing from an elderly relative,” TDCJ release states. “Law enforcement officers responded to the residence and discovered the bodies of two adults and three children.”
“A white Chevrolet Silverado from 1999, number plate DPV4520, was missing from the home,” it continues. “It is believed that the escaped prisoner, Gonzalo Lopez, may be driving the vehicle and may be armed.”
Pictures of the missing truck and Lopez showing off his tattoos were included in the release. Authorities offered a $ 50,000 reward for Lopez’s capture. Members of the public were urged to call 911 immediately if they spotted Lopez. Details of his reported capture and subsequent death were unclear Thursday night.
Law enforcement agents conducted a helicopter-assisted search of the area where the victims were found, according to KBTX. Highway 7, the road that Lopez was traveling on when he fled, was closed to traffic west of Centerville.
Few further details on the identities of the victims had been released at the time of publication. TDCJ officials said Lopez was not related to the family, who were from the Houston area, during Thursday night’s press conference.
Robert Hurst, a public information officer at TDCJ, told New York Times last month that Lopez was “very dangerous,” noting that his extensive criminal record included convictions for killing a man with a pickaxe and attempting to kill a sheriff’s deputy.
“The most remarkable thing is that he killed a guy with a pickaxe,” Hurst said. “We will not interrupt the search until we have found him.”
Hurst told Houston CBS affiliate KHOU last week that Lopez was “cunning” and had previously escaped from South Texas’ Webb County jail, where he “hid for nearly nine days.”
Newsweek contacted TDPS and TDCJ for comments.