A convicted murderer escaped in Texas on Thursday after he attacked an officer driving a prison bus and fled after the vehicle went off the road, officials said.
A manhunt was underway for Gonzalo Lopez, 46, after he escaped from the crashed vehicle early Thursday afternoon in rural Leon County, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said.
Lopez managed to get free of his restraints and enter the driver’s area, where he stabbed the driver in the hand with some type of object, agency spokesman Robert Hurst said.
The officer’s injuries are not thought to be life-threatening, he said.
“During the struggle, the bus went off the roadway,” Hurst said. “When it went off of the roadway, that’s when the inmate went out the door and started fleeing across the pasture.”
The bus crashed on Texas State Highway 7 about a mile and a half from Centerville, Hurst said.
For a brief time during the struggle, Lopez was able to get the driver’s handgun, but he did not fire the weapon, which has been recovered, Hurst said.
Other inmates were on the bus, but they remained in their restraints, and no one else escaped, he said.
Two officers were on the bus, one driving and one in a rear area. There were no other injuries except to the officer who was stabbed in the hand, Hurst said.
Lopez escaped in an area of farms and ranches about halfway between Houston and Dallas.
Lopez is serving a life sentence on convictions for capital murder and attempted capital murder, officials said. He was sentenced in 2006 for the murder the previous year, agency records show.
Officials do not know how Lopez was able to get out of his restraints or get into a cage-like area where the driver was located, Hurst said.
Anyone who sees him is asked to call 911 and urged not to approach him or try to take him into custody, officials said. The farms and ranches in the area have been told to report anyone suspicious. Lopez was last seen on foot wearing white prison uniform, Hurst said.
Lopez was being held at a prison in Gatesville, and the bus was traveling to Huntsville, Hurst said. Lopez was being moved because he had a medical appointment, he said.
Phil Helsel is a reporter for NBC News.