LEON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — An escaped murderer suspected of killing a family of five Thursday is now dead, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said.
Jason Clark, the chief of staff for TDCJ, said law enforcement in Atascosa County, south of San Antonio, shot and killed Gonzalo Lopez after a shootout around 10:30 p.m. Thursday.
Law enforcement started to tail a Chevrolet Silverado that matched the description of a vehicle stolen from a home near Centerville where the family Lopez is suspected of killing was visiting.
Clark said law enforcement used spike strips on the pickup to disable it and Lopez crashed. He got out and started firing at responding law enforcement, but Clark said he didn’t hit anyone. Clark said Lopez had an AR-15 rifle and a pistol.
Atascosa County Sheriff David Soward said in a Facebook post that Lopez was stopped on Highway 16 north and Cypress Street in Jourdanton, a town of about 3,800 people. Lopez was shot and killed by law enforcement in a residential area, Clark said.
Jourdanton is about 250 miles from Centerville.
“We’re thankful this came to a resolution in which Lopez didn’t harm anyone else,” Clark said. “We’re breathing a sigh of relief that Lopez won’t be able to hurt anyone else.”
Clark said the property in Centerville wasn’t the family’s permanent home and was “more of a weekend home.” He said the family, one adult and four minors, arrived at the home earlier in the day Thursday before they were killed. The family is believed to be from the Houston area.
Lopez was serving a life sentence for capital murder when he escaped a prison transport bus May 12 between Gatesville and Huntsville.
Before the shootout in a media briefing at 10 p.m., Clark said Lopez had been eluding authorities in wooded areas in Leon County and was recently inside the home to get water and change clothes.
Clark did not say why Lopez is the suspect in Thursday’s murders, only claiming there was “evidence” that suggested his involvement.
In addition to the vehicle, authorities believe Lopez stole the guns used in the shootout from the property.
TDCJ said in a tweet that while it was investigating leads in the area, “law enforcement agencies received a call from an individual who became concerned after not hearing from an elderly relative.” That tip led authorities to the home where they discovered the bodies, the tweet said.
Lopez was on a transport bus with 15 other inmates and two guards when he stabbed one of the guards. He drove the bus a short distance before he fled on foot, and authorities have been looking for him since. Law enforcement rode horseback and used train dogs to search for him in Leon County about two weeks ago.