A convicted murderer on the run since escaping a prison bus after stabbing its driver on May 12 was shot dead late Thursday after he killed a family of five and stole their truck from a rural weekend cabin, a Texas prison system spokesman said.

Gonzalo Lopez, 46, was killed in a shootout with police at about 10:30 p.m. Thursday in Jourdanton, Texas, about 35 miles south of San Antonio, after driving the family’s pickup truck more than 220 miles from the cabin, said Jason Clark, spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Authorities said Lopez killed an adult and four minors at a rural weekend cabin near Centerville. He was armed with an AR-15-style rifle and a pistol when he was killed by police. Officials said the weapons may have been taken from the cabin.

Crime Stoppers of Houston on Friday identified the victims as Mark Collins, 66; Waylon Collins, 18; Carson Collins, 16; Hudson Collins, 11; and Bryson Collins, 11.

Crime Stoppers of Houston identified the victim as Mark Collins, 66; Waylon Collins, 18; Carson Collins, 16; Hudson Collins, 11;, and Bryson Collins, 11.

Crime Stoppers of Houston

Crime Stoppers of Houston identified the victim as Mark Collins, 66; Waylon Collins, 18; Carson Collins, 16; Hudson Collins, 11; and Bryson Collins, 11.

MISSING CONVICT KILLED BY POLICE SOUTH OF SAN ANTONIO

Gonzalo Lopez drove the family’s stolen pickup more than 220 miles from Centerville to Jourdanton before being spotted by deputies.

Atascosa County Sheriff David Soward said law enforcement spotted the truck and followed it, staying behind so as to not alert him of their presence. Officers with Jourdanton police then used spike strips to flatten the truck’s tires.

NBC 5’s Ken Kalthoff reports details of the shootout that killed a convicted murderer hours after he’s suspected of killing five members of the same family in Centerville.

But Lopez was still able to keep driving and stick his rifle out the window and fire several shots at officers before he hit two telephone poles and a fence, Soward said.

Lopez crashed in a neighborhood and tried to get out and run.

Officers found one adults and four children dead in Leon County, Texas, where prisoner Gonzalo Lopez escaped custody last month.

“He exited his truck. He fired additional rounds. At least four officers returned fire at the suspect,” who was killed, Soward said.

“Those officers very swiftly shot and killed Lopez bringing this whole ordeal to an end,” Clark said.

Officers found one adults and four children dead in Leon County, Texas, where prisoner Gonzalo Lopez escaped custody last month.

Lopez was killed about 220 miles southwest of Centerville, Texas, near where officials said Lopez killed a Houston family of five at their weekend cabin and stole their pickup truck.

FAMILY OF FIVE KILLED IN CENTERVILLE

Gonzalo Lopez was thought to be hiding in the vicinity of a Centerville cabin when officers received a call from someone concerned after not hearing from an elderly relative, Jason Clark said.

Officers went to the family’s weekend cabin along Texas Route 7 west of Centerville at about 6 p.m. Thursday and found the bodies of one adult and four children.

Crime Stoppers of Houston on Friday identified the victims as Mark Collins, 66; Waylon Collins, 18; Carson Collins, 16; Hudson Collins, 11; and Bryson Collins, 11.

The five are believed to have been killed Thursday afternoon and had no link to Lopez, he said.

“What has happened to the Collins family is just unspeakable. Those kids were bright, shining stars. We coached them through baseball, and these next few days are going to be tough on all of us,” said family friend David Crain in a press conference Friday afternoon.

Crain went on to say the family respects the Texas Rangers’ investigation, though he said they’re eager for answers about how the escaped inmate ended up on their Centerville property after they were told by law enforcement that it had been searched and cleared.

He said that includes questions about a burglary the family believes happened nearby in the days prior.

“I do think if Mark was aware that he was within a day or two of him being on his property, he would’ve never exposed those kids to that danger, but I can’t speak to what Mark knew or didn’t know,” said Crain.

The Tomball school district, located in suburban Houston, on Friday said the four minors killed were students in its district and the adult was their grandfather.

“There are no words. During this difficult time, the Tomball community is continuing to pull together following the tragic loss of four students,” said school district Superintendent Martha Salazar-Zamora.

Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.

The family’s white pickup truck was gone, Clark said. Lopez was believed to have driven the truck from the search area, he said.



TDCJ

The family, who was from the Houston area, was thought to have arrived Thursday morning at the cabin, which they owned, Clark said. Authorities don’t yet know whether Lopez had been staying in the cabin or if he ambushed them upon their arrival.

Lopez was shot and killed by law enforcement officers in South Texas, about 30 miles south of San Antonio.

“We are very saddened that the murders happened but I will tell you that we are breathing a sigh of relief that Lopez will not be able to hurt anybody else,” Clark said late Thursday.

Lopez was a former member of the Mexican Mafia prison gang and had ties to South Texas, he said.

CONVICTED MURDERER ESCAPES TEXAS PRISON TRANSPORT

Lopez had been the subject of an intensive search since his escape from the prison bus. He was being transported in a caged area of the bus from a prison in Gatesville, more than 100 miles west of the place where he escaped, to one in Huntsville for a medical appointment when he escaped in Leon County, a rural area between Dallas and Houston, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice has said.

Centerville is the county seat of Leon County, which has roughly 16,000 residents and is about 50 miles north of the state’s Huntsville prison headquarters.

The department has said Lopez somehow freed himself from his hand and leg restraints and cut through the expanded metal of the cage and crawled from the bottom. He then attacked the driver, who stopped the bus and got into an altercation with Lopez, and they both eventually got off the bus.

A second officer at the rear of the bus then exited and approached Lopez, who got back on the bus and started driving down the road, the department said.

The officers fired at Lopez and disabled the bus by shooting the rear tire, the department said. The bus then traveled a short distance before leaving the roadway, where Lopez got out and ran into the woods.

Clark said “a serious incident review” will be conducted into the escape.

“It’s incumbent upon us to go backward to figure out how did he escape, how did he beat our security protocols in order to leave that transport vehicle,” Clark said.


Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Gonzalo Lopez, 46, escaped custody Thursday after he overpowered the driver of a prison transport bus. The driver’s injuries were not considered life-threatening.

Lopez was serving a life prison sentence for a 2006 conviction of murdering a man along the Texas-Mexico border.

A $50,000 reward for information leading to Lopez’s capture was offered.





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