CENTERVILLE, Texas — The escaped convict who was able to stab a prison guard in the hand and run from a crashed prison bus in Leon County has a violent criminal history, records show.
Gonzalo Lopez, 46, is serving back-to-back life sentences for shooting a Webb County, Texas sheriff's deputy in 2004 and killing a man with a pickax in Hidalgo County after holding him ransom on a drug debt, KGNS-TV reported.
Lopez was being transported Thursday from the Alfred Hughes Unit outside of Gatesville in central Texas to a prison medical facility in Huntsville when he was able to get loose and stab the bus driver in the hand and chest. He drove off in the bus but didn't get far thanks to another guard who shot out its back tires with a shotgun. Lopez lost control and crashed on Highway 7, outside of Centerville.
Lopez's prison history in Texas dates back to 1994 when he was convicted of multiple felonies including aggravated assault and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle in Hidalgo County. He was sentenced in 1996 and served time inside a Texas Department of Criminal Justice facility, records show.
2006 Capital murder conviction
In 2005, Lopez was arrested in connection with the kidnapping and shooting death of Lupe Ramirez in Weslaco.
Ramirez was taken by two men at gunpoint who later demanded a $40,000 ransom for his release. Lopez was one of the two men involved, authorities said. Investigators said Ramirez was wanted dead due to owing money to the cartel for a drug shipment.
A month after the abduction, Lopez was arrested in Starr County on unrelated drug possession charges and told a Texas Ranger that he had kidnapped and killed Ramirez, according to court records.
Lopez led investigators to the place where he said he killed Ramirez with a pickax and buried his body.
Investigators found Ramirez's body buried about four feet deep. His hands were tied together with rope that also covered his mouth and neck.
Lopez told investigators the kidnapping and killing were ordered by associates who belonged to the La Mana drug cartel from Tamaulipas, Mexico.
He was sentenced to life in prison in 2006.
2004 deputy shooting
Lopez told investigators in 2004 that he and another man he identified as Luis Carlos Mares, were on their way to kill someone in Laredo when a Webb County deputy sheriff attempted to pull them over.
In a written statement, Lopez said Mares opened fire on the deputy while he held the steering wheel during the chase. Eventually, their car ran out of gas and Lopez was able to escape into the brush and run for several hours.
He was able to hide from law enforcement while on foot until the next day when he called a cartel associate to pick him up.
Lopez was able to hide in Laredo, Rio Grande City, and Mexico with the help of the cartel.
Both Lopez and Mares were eventually taken into custody after a confidential informant pointed investigators to the two men.
Prior to his Thursday escape in Leon County, Lopez wasn't eligible for parole until April 2045, according to TDCJ records.
Read Lopez's court documents below: