Escaped Texas inmate dies in police shootout after allegedly murdering family of 5

·3 min read
Escaped Texas inmate dies in police shootout after allegedly murdering family of 5

A Texas inmate suspected of murdering five people after he escaped from a prison bus was killed by authorities on Thursday, officials said.

A massive manhunt was underway for 46-year-old Gonzalo Lopez when an adult and four children were found dead Thursday evening inside a residence in Leon County in east-central Texas, near where the inmate had escaped three weeks prior. Lopez was believed to have broken into the home and committed the murders, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Authorities said at the time that Lopez may have stolen clothes, firearms and a 1999 white Chevrolet Silverado from the residence.

MORE: Texas authorities share more details on inmate's escape from bus

The ranch was believed to be a weekend home for the victims, whose primary residence was in the Houston area. Authorities said the family had been seen Thursday morning and were found murdered around 6 p.m. local time, after an individual contacted law enforcement because they had not heard from an elderly relative inside the home and were concerned.

The victims were identified by authorities Friday as members of a Tomball family -- brothers Waylon Collins, 18, Carson Collins, 16, and Hudson Collins, 11; their cousin, Bryson Collins, 11; and their grandfather, Mark Collins, 66.

The brothers and their cousin attended Tomball Independent School District, school officials said Friday.

"These precious people who loved and were loved by so many will never be forgotten," the Collins family said in a statement. "The impact on their family and friends cannot be overstated."

PHOTO: This undated photo provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice shows inmate Gonzalo Lopez. (Texas Department of Criminal Justice via AP)
PHOTO: This undated photo provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice shows inmate Gonzalo Lopez. (Texas Department of Criminal Justice via AP)

Authorities had initially said that two adults and three children were discovered dead at the home.

"We will not rest until Gonzalo Lopez is in custody," Jason Clark, chief of staff for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, said at a press conference Thursday evening.

Later that night, deputies from the Atascosa County Sheriff's Office spotted the stolen pickup truck that Lopez was believed to be driving and followed it. They laid out spike strips that flattened all four tires of the vehicle on a street in Jourdanton, just south of San Antonio and some 250 miles southwest of Leon County. The suspect then pointed a rifle out of the window and fired several shots at the deputies, who returned fire, according to authorities.

The suspect was killed in the shootout and was confirmed to be Lopez, who authorities said was armed with an AR-15 and a pistol.

"We received additional information from the U.S. Marshals Service that he may be in the San Antonio area. So then we heightened our alert and, sure enough, we spotted him," Atascosa County Sheriff David Soward said at a press conference Thursday night. "This dangerous individual is off the street and no officers were injured."

Reward grows to $50,000 for arrest of escaped inmate serving life for murder

Lopez, who was serving a life sentence for a capital murder in Hidalgo County and an attempted capital murder in Webb County, managed to break free from his shackles, overpower a bus driver and escape from custody near Centerville on May 12, while being transported from Gatesville to Huntsville for a medical appointment. He was added to Texas' 10 Most Wanted Fugitives List and a $50,000 reward was issued for his capture.

Authorities had said Lopez was allegedly affiliated with the Mexican Mafia.

ABC News' Marilyn Heck, Emily Shapiro, Flor Tolentino and Jennifer Watts contributed to this story.

Escaped Texas inmate dies in police shootout after allegedly murdering family of 5 originally appeared on abcnews.go.com