LEON COUNTY, Texas (FOX 44) – The Texas Department of Criminal Justice said the search for escapee Gonzalo Lopez, 46, is entering a new, expanded phase.

The TDCJ, the Office of Inspector General (OIG), along with numerous law enforcement agencies, have concluded an exhaustive ground and air search in Leon County, they said.

A contingent of personnel will remain in the county, and will be conducting strategic searches of areas outside of the original secured perimeter. The renewed focus by OIG, Texas Rangers, and U.S. Marshals is to leave no stone unturned as they follow leads and track Lopez’s whereabouts.

“Anyone who has knowledge of Lopez’s location should come forward,” said Inspector General Cris Love. “Those found to be helping or harboring him not only will face arrest and prosecution, but I believe they are putting themselves in danger. Lopez has a complete disregard for human life and will do what it takes to avoid capture. We will take this investigation where ever it leads us until Lopez is back in custody.”

Gonzalo Lopez, 46
Gonzalo Lopez, 46 (Courtesy TDCJ)

The U.S. Marshals say was on a transport bus with 15 other inmates and two guards on their way from Gatesville to Huntsville, Texas. They report Lopez was able to get free from his restraints during that transport.

Federal law enforcement said Lopez used “an object” to stab the bus driver, Officer Randy Smith, who is expected to survive. He was then able to “briefly” get ahold of Smith’s handgun, but was not able to free it from the holster, the U.S. Marshals said in a release. At some point, the guards and Lopez ended up outside of the bus.

The second guard, Officer Jimmie Brinegar shot the back tires of the bus before Lopez jumped back in and attempted to drive off, they said. He then drove roughly a mile before crashing and continuing on foot.

Lopez has been added to the Texas 10 Most Wanted Fugitives List, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Those with information on the suspect can call TDCJ OIG Crime Stoppers at 1-800-832-8477, or 936-437-5171. Lopez is approximately 6’0”, weighs 190 pounds, and was last seen wearing white clothing in a wooded area off of Highway 7 in Leon County. A $50,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the capture of Lopez.