Manhunt underway for dangerous inmate who escaped near Centerville

(The Center Square) – A manhunt is underway for a dangerous inmate who escaped near Centerville, roughly 40 minutes north of Huntsville. The inmate reportedly stabbed a correctional officer after he stole a Texas Department of Criminal Justice transport bus Thursday afternoon, the Leon County Sheriff’s Office says.

It posted an updated announcement on Facebook, stating, “Leon County Sheriff’s Office is currently looking for a TDCJ Inmate who stole a TDC Bus and wrecked out 2 miles west of Centerville off Hwy 7. We have multiple agents working together but please if you see someone suspicious call the Sheriff’s office. Suspect is Gonzalo Lopez, a Hispanic male in TDC whites.”

For those who live in the area, the sheriff’s office says, “Make sure you lock your doors & vehicles. If you see something or someone you do not recognize or seems suspicious, please call 9-1-1, do not approach the subject.”

The 46-year-old inmate is currently serving a life sentence for crimes he committed in two border counties: capital murder in Hidalgo County and attempted capital murder in Webb County.

He was reportedly being transported to Huntsville for medical reasons from the Alfred D. Hughes Unit, a prison for men within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice located in Gatesville, which is located just west of Waco.

Centerville ISD was placed on lockdown Thursday and classes were cancelled on Friday. Residents are being asked to shelter in place.

KBXT News reports that Lopez was able to remove his restraints and used an unknown object to stab the guard who was driving the bus, then exited the bus and escaped into a nearby field. The second officer, who’d been in the back of the bus, later exited the bus and fired several shots in the inmate’s direction. He didn’t know if he’d hit him or not.

A resident driving by saw Lopez run into the nearby field, jump a fence and run toward a home. In a video recording she took on her phone, posted on Twitter by KBTX News, she can be heard telling the officers, “he’s in the woods.” The officer replied, “yeah, I know.”

TDCJ also posted a warning on Facebook, stating a manhunt was underway “for an escaped inmate in Leon County. 46-year-old Gonzalo Lopez assaulted a correctional officer on a transport bus and then fled from the vehicle. TDCJ, OIG, and multiple law enforcement agencies are searching for the inmate near Highway 7 westbound in Leon County approximately 1.5 miles from Interstate 45. Lopez is serving a life sentence for capital murder out of Hidalgo County and attempted capital murder out of Webb County. If you spot Lopez, immediately contact 911 and do not approach him.”

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