Texas police kill fugitive who shot dead four children and their grandfather | Texas

A convicted murderer with ties to a Mexican drug cartel killed four Houston-area children and their grandfather before police shot him dead on Thursday, more than three weeks after he escaped a prison bus in Texas and went on the run, authorities said.

Officers said Gonzalo Lopez, 46, who escaped from custody while serving two life sentences, killed the five family members – all strangers to him – and stole their truck while they were at their weekend cabin.

Investigators did not immediately release the identities of the family members. A statement from the Tomball independent school district said Lopez killed four of its students along with their grandfather, seven days into the children’s summer break.

“The loss of a student, for any reason, is heartbreaking, but to lose four in such a tragic way is excruciating,” said the statement from the district, which serves a suburb of Houston.

Gonzalo Lopez.
Gonzalo Lopez reportedly stole a family’s pickup truck after killing them. Photograph: AP

A spokesperson for the Texas department of criminal justice, which led the search for Lopez, called the murders “an absolute tragedy”.

“I am thankful that … Gonzalo Lopez is unable to harm anyone else,” Jason Clark said.

Lopez was given two life sentences for shooting a sheriff’s deputy in Webb county, Texas, in 2004, then in 2005 using a pickaxe to kill a Hidalgo county man he had kidnapped and held for ransom over a $40,000 drug debt owed to the La Mana cartel from Tamaulipas, Mexico.

On 12 May this year, Lopez was put in a caged area of a bus being driven from a prison in Gatesville to another prison in Huntsville. In Leon county, a rural area between Dallas and Houston about 50 miles from the Huntsville prison, he managed to remove his hand and leg restraints, cut through the cage and escape.

He reportedly attacked the bus driver, who was stabbed in the hand. A second officer tried to tackle Lopez, who got back on the vehicle and drove away. The officers stopped the bus by shooting out its rear tire. Lopez ran into the woods.

A manhunt involved hundreds of law enforcement officers and a search plane. Officials offered $50,000 for information leading to Lopez’s capture.

By Thursday, officials suspected he was hiding near cabins in Centerville. Then someone placed a call to law enforcement, expressing concern for an elderly relative who had not been heard from.

Officers went to the relative’s cabin, just west of Centerville, at about 6pm on Thursday. They found the bodies of the four children and their grandfather. Their white pickup truck was missing. Authorities suspected Lopez had driven it away, possibly hoping to cross the border into Mexico, after breaking into the cabin and killing everyone there.

Police in Jourdanton, about 220 miles south-west of Centerville, spotted Lopez driving the truck and gave chase. A strip of spikes deflated the truck’s tires, said Clark.

The truck crashed into a tree in a residential area and Lopez fired at officers who shot back, killing him. No officers were wounded.

Lopez had an AR-15 rifle and a pistol. Clark said investigators believe he stole the weapons from the Centerville cabin where he killed the children and their grandfather.

Clark said Texas prison officials were still investigating how Lopez broke free, adding: “We will uncover how he did it and will adjust as we need.”

Clark expressed relief Lopez was no longer a threat to the public but expressed dismay that police did not stop him before he killed the family members.

The four children and their grandfather apparently arrived at their cabin on Thursday morning and were killed in the afternoon, Clark said.

“I can’t imagine the grief and suffering [their loved ones] are going through,” he added.

Death – Obituary – Cause Of Death