An active search is ongoing for a convicted murderer who fled after attacking a corrections officer driving a prison bus on Thursday.
On May 12, Gonzalo Artemio Lopez, 46, was aboard the bus with 15 other inmates traveling to Huntsville for medical appointments. According to investigators, he slipped out of his shackles and stabbed the bus driver in the hand and chest.
Officer Randy Smith, the driver, was able to stop the bus. After a fight, the convict obtained a revolver from Smith’s holster but failed to fire the weapon.
Officer Jimmie Brinegar was equipped with a shotgun in the bus’s rear and shot out the bus’s back tires.
According to Robert Hurst, the spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Lopez then got back in the bus and drove it for a short time before losing control and crashing on Texas State Highway 7 near Centerville.
Lopez made his getaway in a rural location in Leon County, midway between Houston and Dallas.
Smith and Brinegar shot at him as he ran through a pasture, but they were unsure if he was struck.
According to the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, Lopez was wearing a white jail uniform when he escaped.
Smith’s injuries are said to be non-life-threatening.
“[Lopez is] somebody that is very dangerous,” said Hurst. “We want to get this guy before he does something to someone else.”
Hurst said they are still looking into how Lopez managed to escape from his handcuffs and open the vehicle’s secured door to reach the bus driver.
Lopez is serving a life sentence for a capital murder charge after killing a man with a pickax in 2005. He was also found guilty of attempted capital murder after trying to kill a police officer, and he has multiple aggravated assault, kidnapping, and drug offense charges, dating back to 1995.
The man is an inmate at the Alfred Hughes Unit in Gatesville, Texas.
As the search continues for the inmate, residents are advised to stay in their homes. Center Independent School District announced on Facebook that they suspended classes on Friday.