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Leon County manhunt reaches day 6, drivers warned not to pick up hitchhikers

Drivers on Interstate 45 are being warned not to pickup hitchhikers with an escaped murderer on...
Drivers on Interstate 45 are being warned not to pickup hitchhikers with an escaped murderer on the loose.(Clay Falls)
Published: May. 17, 2022 at 3:40 PM CDT
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CENTERVILLE, Texas (KBTX) - Gonzalo Lopez has been on the the run for six days after escaping from a prison bus. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice says there have been no confirmed sightings by law enforcement or residents in Leon County. The longer the hunt drags out, the more folks in Leon County question whether he had outside help.

“That’s part of our ongoing investigation, is to find out if he had any assistance from either inside the prison system or outside of the prison system. That’s what we’ll be looking at with our ongoing investigation,” said Robert Hurst, TDCJ spokesperson.

Highway 7 is still blocked to traffic and drivers along I-45 area also seeing daily warning signs not to pick up hitchhikers. As the manhunt persists, residents can’t shake their uneasiness.

”I understand that a lot of residents here are concerned and they should be, but I want them to know that we are doing everything we can to get this guy apprehended,” said Sheriff Kevin Ellis of Leon County.

“It’s been six days, 300 searchers and still no sign of capital murderer Gonzalo Lopez. In fact, the only new sign is one on I-45 warning drivers not to pickup hitchhikers.

On Tuesday TDCJ shared video inside the search area where they maintain Lopez is still hiding out.

“It’s a very concentrated search and it’s one of the largest search efforts for an escaped inmate in Texas Department of Criminal Justice history,” said Hurst.

A search that has turned-up more questions than answers. Like how such a dangerous felon was able to escape his restraints, cut through a metal door on the prison bus and attack the driver. Or whether he had help from the outside. We asked TDCJ if Lopez could have changed his appearance to elude their efforts.

“We haven’t found any prison clothing. To our knowledge he’s still in it. We haven’t seen anything to indicate otherwise,” said Hurst.

“They’re running down any leads. We’re running down here locally and outside of here every lead that we come across and we’ll continue to do that,” said Ellis.

Sheriff Elis is also concerned about having someone so dangerous in his own backyard.

“As a lawman here it’s very concerning and but what, I’m concerned about the safety of our citizens, but what I’m not concerned about is the manpower and the organization that’s being put out to get this guy captured. I’m telling you it’s phenomenal,” he said.

The reward for Gonzalo Lopez’ capture and prosecution remains at $50,000.

Day 6 of the manhunt for Gonzalo Lopez. Drivers on I-45 have seen this daily warning message. I have live reports at 4, 5, 6 and recap at 10 p.m. from Centerville.

Posted by Clay Falls on Tuesday, May 17, 2022

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