TDCJ spokesman says ‘false alarm’ in overnight search for escaped inmate in Madison County
MADISON COUNTY, Texas (KBTX) - A spokesperson for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice called an overnight search for escaped inmate Gonzalo Lopez a “false alarm.”
Robert Hurst told News 3′s Donnie Tuggle there was a tip someone had spotted the escaped convicted killer, but no one was found after law enforcement officials searched through the night and into early Wednesday morning. By truck, ATV and even a surveillance plane, the search for the inmate spilled into Madison County after two callers reported seeing a passer-by who matched Lopez’s description.
“We received a call about 8:30 p.m. last night of a suspicious individual on Highway 21 at Navasota River Bridge. When my people arrived the individual fled into the woods,” said Sheriff Bobby Adams of Madison County.
Highway 21 east of Brazos County was closed for several hours while authorities searched an area near the Navasota River. The road was reopened by 5:00 a.m.
While Adams doesn’t believe the man seen walking along Highway 21 was Lopez, there’s no way to be sure, because whoever he was, deputies haven’t caught-up with him yet, either.
“TDCJ arrived pretty quickly. They brought the pack of dogs. Run a track all the into North Zulch and then they lost him,” said Adams.
Lopez was last seen on May 12 when he escaped custody while being transported by bus. The 46-year-old is described as a white or Hispanic male, approximately 6 feet tall and 185 pounds.
A KBTX crew reported seeing several TDCJ trucks traveling along Highway 21 around 8 a.m., with people checking driveways and properties along the road.
It’s a revelation that has residents and nearby businesses keeping things locked up and firearms close by.
“We put an alert out on our emergency management system for that end of the county alerting the residents and then we received a few calls in reference to suspicious activity and we checked all of that out,” Adams added.
After closing Highway 21 for several hours Wednesday morning, TDCJ conceded the call as a false alarm, leaving questions about who this other man was and why he ran off.
“Some people who had called in who had knocks on their door,” Adams said.
Law enforcement officials continue urging everyone to report anything suspicious by calling 911.
The reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of Gonzalo Lopez remains at $50,000.
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