CENTERVILLE, Texas – A Texas prisoner serving a life sentence for murder escaped from a transport bus Thursday after stabbing the driver, setting off a search in a rural county between Dallas and Houston, authorities said.
Multiple law enforcement agencies were searching an area off an interstate in Leon County for Gonzalo Lopez, 46, who was convicted in 2006 of killing another man along the Texas-Mexico border.
There were 16 prisoners aboard the bus but no one else escaped, said Jason Clark, chief of staff for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. He said Lopez overpowered the driver, a correctional officer, but that it was unclear whether Lopez gained control of the bus or whether it just went off the road.
The injuries to the driver are not considered life-threatening, Clark said.
Leon County has roughly 16,000 residents and is about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of the state's prison headquarters.
Prison records show Lopez was most recently being held at a lockup in Gatesville, more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) from where authorities were searching.
Other prisoners in Texas have also escaped transport vehicles over the years. Among the most recent was in 2019 when an MMA fighter suspected of killing two people fled from a van and was missing for nine hours. Authorities said he was eventually found hiding in a trash can.