Convicted murderer Gonzalo Lopez, who escaped last month from a prisoner transportation bus in Texas, was killed in a shootout with officers late Thursday, according to officials.
Hours earlier, authorities said Lopez was the prime suspect in the killing of five people, including four children, in a home in Leon County.
Lopez fled the home in a truck that was later disabled with a spike strip in the town of Jourdanton, Jason Clark with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said in a press conference Thursday night.
Lopez crashed the vehicle and then engaged in a firefight with officers, he said.
“He fired several rounds at officers and was armed with an AR-15 and a pistol,” Clark said, adding that they believe the firearms were likely stolen from the home in Centerville where the family was killed. No officers were injured.
Lopez had been convicted of capital murder, attempted capital murder and aggravated kidnapping, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. He was serving two life sentences for those convictions, according to the department.
His escape near Centerville, about 120 miles north of Houston, on May 12 sparked one of the largest search efforts for an escaped inmate in Texas history, according to officials.
Lopez was on the state’s 10 Most Wanted Fugitives List and authorities offered up to $50,000 for information that would help toward his capture.
“He’s got a life sentence for a capital murder, where he killed a man with a pickaxe and he’s also gotten an attempted capital murder conviction for shooting a gun at a police officer,” Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesperson Robert Hurst said during a news conference at the time, warning that Lopez is “very dangerous.”
Lopez was affiliated with the Mexican Mafia and had ties to the Rio Grande Valley area – including Weslaco and Mercedes – and San Antonio, the state’s public safety department said.
Earlier on Thursday, officials said a family had been found dead in their rural home and that Lopez was the suspect.
“Lopez is obviously a killer. He has a disregard for human life,” Clark said.
Authorities did not provide exact ages or identities of the victims.
Clark said the family was using the home in Leon County as a “weekend residence.” Investigators believe the family had no connection to Lopez, who allegedly broke into the home and stole a vehicle that Clark described as a “farm truck.”
The home was within the perimeter police were searching following Lopez’s escape, which happened as he was being transported from a facility in Gatesville to another unit in Huntsville for a medical appointment.
Huntsville is around 70 miles north of Houston.
He was being driven in a separate, caged area of the prison bus but he was able to break out of his restraints, cut through the metal and crawl out of the bottom of the cage, officials previously said.
Lopez attacked the driver and forced the bus to a stop, authorities said. The two got out of the vehicle and as a second officer began approaching, Lopez went back into the bus and attempted to drive it away but the officers shot at the tires and were able to stop the vehicle, authorities said.
Lopez left the bus and ran into the woods off of Highway 7 in Leon County, according to authorities.