Leon County residents on edge as manhunt for escaped inmate reaches day 4

Published: May. 16, 2022 at 6:18 PM CDT
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CENTERVILLE, Texas (KBTX) - Convicted killer Gonzalo Lopez has been on the run for four days now and authorities maintain he is still in Leon County.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice says they believe the escaped inmate is still hiding somewhere in the woods west of Centerville and they have no plans to move their search until they receive credible information telling them otherwise.

For the fourth day in a row, a DPS helicopter spent the afternoon scouring the area north of Highway 7 just west of Centerville. The highway is still closed while more than 300 law enforcement members from agencies across the state throw everything they have into the search for 46-year-old Lopez.

Authorities want to know how Lopez escaped his restraints and cut through a metal door that separates prisoners from the driver on board a TDCJ bus on Thursday.

Melanie Tieperman wants to know, too. She and her son captured footage Thursday of Lopez running into the woods. She’s concerned the search is taking too long.

‘It’s very stressful to have to make an emergency plan with your children. Not knowing if he attempts to come into the home. You know to create a safe word in case you’re taken hostage. You want to protect your children as much as possible. I do have a concealed handgun license so I am used to carrying and know how to carry,” said Tieperman, a Leon County resident.

TDCJ says only when they have confirmed information that Lopez has moved on is when they might suspend the search or look elsewhere.

“When we get intelligence that tells us he’s not here. And right now we’re not getting anything that tells us otherwise,” said Robert Hurst with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Leon and Centerville ISDs were open Monday.

“Our intelligence tells us that he is still in this area we do not believe that he has left this area,” said Hurst.

Hurst added Lopez has ties to the Mexican Mafia.

“Anybody that does live back in there check in with DPS, see if you know they’ll let you back into your home,” he said.

TDCJ tells us they are talking with everyone that was on that bus. They are also looking at leads including if Lopez was caught on any game cameras in that area.

“To continue to remind yourself to lock the door every time you walk in and out is very very stressful,” said Tieperman.

They said they will follow up on any credible information. If you spot Lopez you should contact 911 or law enforcement immediately.

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