(LEON COUNTY, Texas) — An inmate serving a life sentence for murder managed to free himself of restraints and cut through a caged area of a bus transporting him before overpowering a bus driver and escaping, Texas authorities said as the search for the inmate continued.
Gonzalo Lopez, 46, was on a transport bus en route from Gatesville to Huntsville for a medical appointment when he escaped in Leon County on May 12, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said.
“Due to his criminal history and restrictive housing status, inmate Lopez was being transported in a separate, caged area of the bus, designated for high-risk inmates,” the department said in an update Wednesday. “During the transport, inmate Lopez defeated his restraints, cut through the expanded metal, crawled out through the bottom of the cage, and attacked the driver.”
During the altercation with Lopez, the officer driving the bus was stabbed in the hand and punctured in the chest, suffering non-life-threatening injuries, officials said last week. Lopez allegedly tried to grab the driver’s service weapon but couldn’t remove it from the holster, officials said.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice did not provide any updates on what Lopez allegedly used to cut through the cage.
“He used some type of device, we don’t know what some type of device, to cut out the bottom of the door,” Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Robert Hurst told reporters last week.
The driver, Lopez and a second officer at the rear of the bus exited the vehicle, the department said Wednesday. As the second officer approached Lopez, the inmate got back on the bus and started driving away, it said.
Both officers fired at the bus, striking the rear tire. Lopez continued to drive for about a mile before crashing, officials said. Lopez then jumped off the bus and fled into the woods off Highway 7 in Leon County, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said.
As the search for Lopez continues, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice also released new photos Wednesday of the inmate taken from surveillance footage on the morning of the escape as he was being escorted to the prison bus.
Visitation at more than 40 Texas Department of Criminal Justice units, including prisons, will be canceled until further notice starting Thursday “due to the ongoing efforts in the apprehension of escaped inmate Gonzalo Lopez,” the department announced Wednesday.
Lopez is serving a life sentence for a capital murder in Hidalgo County and an attempted capital murder in Webb County, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said. The murder was committed with a pickaxe, according to Hurst.
Several local, state and federal law enforcement agencies have been involved in the search, including horse and K9 teams.
A reward for information leading to Lopez’s arrest has grown to $50,000.
ABC News’ Emily Shapiro contributed to this report.
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