An urgent manhunt is underway in the US after a murderer escaped a prison bus in Texas.
Gonzalo Lopez was being transported alongside 16 other inmates in an area between Houston and Dallas this week when he managed to slip out of his shackles.
The 46-year-old then grabbed a sharp object to slash the driver before making his getaway, and he’s now been on the run for three days.
Authorities have confirmed the driver’s wounds are not life-threatening and that no other prisoners managed to escape.
Police are now offering a $22,500 reward to anyone who is able to provide information that would lead to the convict’s arrest.
Lopez was originally convicted in 2006 for the murder of a man in Hidalgo County and was sentenced to life in prison.
In 2007, he was given a second life sentence for the attempted murder of another man in Webb County.
According to police officials, Lopez carried out the 2005 killing over a $40,000 drug debt while working for the La Mana drug cartel from Tamaulipas, Mexico.
While speaking to the press on Friday (13 May), Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesperson Robert Hurst said: "I cannot reiterate enough how dangerous this man is and how the public's help is needed in locating him.
"If anybody has seen him, if anybody has any reason to believe he's been on their property please contact local law enforcement officials by way of 9-1-1."
Hurst explained that Lopez slashed the bus driver’s hand with the makeshift weapon and was able to make his escape when the vehicle crashed.
Police and a number of agencies are working together to locate the escapee, including the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), which added him to the state’s ‘10 Most Wanted Fugitives’ list.
In its latest safety bulletin, the agency said: “Lopez, 46, is wanted for escape and aggravated assault of a public servant.
“Texas Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $7,500 for information leading to his arrest. All tips are guaranteed to be anonymous.”
The governmental department added that Lopez is about six feet tall, weighs approximately 180 pounds and has tattoos on his back, abdomen and chest, as well as a burn scar on the right side of his neck.
Taking to Twitter, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice added: “A $22,500 reward is being offered for info leading to the capture of escapee Gonzalo Lopez.
“Please contact TDCJ OIG CRIME STOPPERS at 1-800-832-8477 or 936-437-5171 or your local law enforcement agency at 911,” adding that people can also leave a tip on their website.
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]