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An escaped convict with alleged links to the Mexican mafia was killed in a dramatic shootout with authorities Thursday night, hours after he killed five members of the same family in a Texas holiday cabin, authorities said.
Gonzalo Lopez, a convicted killer, was being transported via prison bus on May 12 when he managed to break out of his shackles, stab a corrections officer, and flee on foot into a cow pasture.
The 46-year-old fugitive was added to Texas’ Most Wanted list and a $50,000 reward for information leading to his capture was issued, with officials warning that he was allegedly affiliated with the Mexican Mafia.
Authorities got an unexpected, but tragic, break in the case on Thursday when a 911 caller reported that they were unable to contact an elderly relative. After the call, cops went to the holiday home in Leon County, where they found the bodies of four children and their grandfather.
“We are beyond devastated,” the brother-in-law’s grandfather wrote on Facebook, according to the Houston Chronicle. “The victims of the escaped convict near Centerville were my brother-in-law and 4 great-nephews, his grandchildren. The kids aged in range from 11-18. The oldest just graduated high school last week. The loss is unbearable.”
According to law enforcement, Lopez had taken a 1999 white Chevrolet truck from the victims’ home and several guns.
Then, on Thursday night, deputies from the Atascosa County Sheriff’s Office spotted the truck in Jourdanton, about 250 miles southwest of Leon County, Sheriff David Soward said at a press conference. They laid road spikes that deflated the truck’s tires and caused Lopez to crash. But the fugitive then pointed a AR-15 out the window and started firing, Soward said. Deputies returned fire according to authorities, killing Lopez.
“This dangerous individual is off the street and no officers were injured,” Soward declared late Thursday.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice Chief of Staff Jason Clark said in a Thursday night briefing that officers had been combing a specific area for Lopez and had actually “cleared” the family’s holiday home several times in recent days. The family, from Houston, had only arrived there on Thursday, he said, leading investigators to believe Lopez killed them that day.
He said there was no indication that Lopez and the victims were related or knew each other. It’s likely Lopez, who had been hiding out in the woods and breaking into homes to steal supplies, may have been “casing the structure and just waiting for someone to come in,” he said.
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