A manhunt is underway for a convicted murderer who escaped from a prison bus in Texas on Thursday by allegedly stabbing the driver in the hand and fleeing the vehicle after the bus went off the road, authorities said.
Gonzalo Lopez, 46, who has been serving a life sentence for capital murder and attempted murder since being convicted in 2006, was able to free himself from his restraints, enter a caged area where the bus driver was sitting and stab him in the hand with an unidentified object, a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said.
Lopez briefly was then able to gain control of the weapon carried by the driver but did not fire it, and it has been recovered, the spokesperson said.
The bus went off the roadway on Texas State Highway 7 in rural Leon County. No other shackled inmates onboard fled after Lopez escaped, officials said. Lopez was being transported from a prison in Gatesville to a facility in Huntsville for a medical appointment, officials said.
The injuries to the officer driving the bus were not life-threatening, and the other officer onboard in a rear area was not injured, authorities said.
Lopez was last seen on foot in a white prison uniform, officials said.
“He is to be considered armed and dangerous, however we do not believe that he has a weapon in his possession at this time. But he should be considered someone who is very dangerous,” Texas Department of Criminal Justice information officer Robert Hurst told NBC affiliate KPRC. “Do not attempt to take this person into custody by yourself. If you see him please contact the nearest law enforcement agency through 911, they will take matters into hand.”
Lopez's escape came three days after accused killer Casey White was captured following an 11-day manhunt after he escaped an Alabama jail. White was apprehended in Indiana after a police chase that ended with former Alabama corrections officer Vicky White, whom police said helped him escape, taking her own life.
Scott Stump is a staff reporter who has been a regular contributor for TODAY.com since 2011, producing news stories and features across the trending, pop culture, sports, parents, pets, health, style, food and TMRW verticals. He has tackled every assignment from interviewing astronauts on the International Space Station to prison inmates training service dogs for military veterans.