The authorities in Texas said late Thursday that a convicted murderer who had escaped from a prison bus last month was “captured and deceased” after becoming the prime suspect in the killing of five people earlier in the day.
The Leon County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post on Thursday night that the convict, Gonzalo Artemio Lopez, had been a prime suspect in the murder of two adults and three children whose bodies were discovered on Thursday at a home near where he had escaped on May 12, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
No other information was immediately available on the death of Mr. Lopez, 46.
The killings of the five people most likely occurred on Thursday afternoon and the home was within a perimeter where law enforcement officials had been searching for Mr. Lopez since he escaped from a prison bus, Jason Clark, the chief of staff at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, told reporters. The home was a weekend residence used by a family from Houston and had been repeatedly searched since the escape, he said.
Mr. Clark said that the authorities had evidence that Mr. Lopez had broken into the home and committed the murders, but he did not provide details or say how the victims had been killed. Mr. Lopez was thought to have used the missing vehicle, a white Chevrolet Silverado, to drive out of the area, he added.
The bus Mr. Lopez escaped from last month had been transporting him and 15 other inmates to a medical appointment. As it approached Centerville, a city about halfway between Houston and Dallas on Interstate 45, he broke free of his shackles, attacked the driver and drove the bus for a mile before losing control.
When Mr. Lopez escaped from the bus into a cow pasture, he prompted one the most extensive manhunts in recent state history.
Mr. Lopez had been serving sentences for crimes that include killing a man with a pickax. His eight other convictions since 1994 include one charge of attempted capital murder for firing a gun at a sheriff’s deputy, one charge of kidnapping and three separate counts of aggravated assault.
Mr. Lopez escaped while he was being driven from a prison in Gatesville, Texas, to a medical appointment in the city of Huntsville, the authorities said. He managed to break free of his handcuffs and to saw his way into the driver’s compartment, where he began fighting the driver.
After the driver stopped the bus and the two men exited, Mr. Lopez stabbed the driver in the left hand and chest, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Another officer on the bus shot out its two back tires. Then Mr. Lopez returned to the bus and managed to drive it for a mile before losing control.
When the bus came to a stop, Mr. Lopez ran through a cow pasture and into a wooded area. Hundreds of agents from local and national law enforcement groups participated in a manhunt using horses, police dogs and helicopters.
Mr. Lopez topped Texas’s most wanted list, and the authorities had been offering $50,000 in exchange for information leading to his arrest and conviction.
Alex Traub contributed reporting.