A manhunt is underway for a convicted murderer who escaped from a prison bus by stabbing an officer after the vehicle crashed off the road, police have said.
Gonzalo Lopez, 46, was being held at a prison in Gatesville, Texas, but was being driven to a medical appointment when the incident occurred yesterday afternoon in Leon County, a rural area between Dallas and Houston.
Lopez vanished after overpowering the driver, whose injuries are not considered life-threatening, said Jason Clark, chief of staff for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
The bus crashed on Texas State Highway 7 about a mile and a half from Centerville.
Lopez also got hold of the driver’s handgun, although he did not fire the weapon, a statement from Texas Department of Criminal Justice Robert Hurst added.
Mr Hurst said: “During the struggle, the bus went off the roadway.
“When it went off of the roadway, that’s when the inmate went out the door and started fleeing across the pasture.”
There were 16 other inmates on the bus, but they remained in their restraints and did not escape.
A second officer was reportedly sitting in a rear area of the bus, but he was not injured.
‘Do not approach Lopez’
Mr Hurst said Lopez was last seen wearing a white prison uniform and was travelling on foot.
Lopez was in prison serving a life sentence on convictions for capital murder and attempted capital murder.
He was sentenced in 2006 for the murder the previous year, according to agency records.
The Leon County Sheriff’s Office said several agencies were involved in the search today, including aircraft from the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Officials have warned anyone who sees Lopez to not approach him or try to take him into custody, but instead call 911.
Classes in the nearby Centerville Independent School District were cancelled on Friday as a precaution.