LEON COUNTY, Texas — It's been almost a week since authorities said 46-year-old Gonzalo Lopez escaped custody by shedding his shackles and cutting through a metal barrier before stabbing a prison bus driver and getting away on foot after the bus crashed.
The search efforts haven't diminished, they've grown. So many prison guards have been called to help scour the five-square-mile area in western Leon County that inmate visitation is canceled at prisons across Texas. Authorities said they still believe Lopez is somewhere nearby. Highway 7 between Centerville and Marquez remained closed on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, for the first time, we're getting a better idea of what those search efforts look like.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice released a video showing hundreds of officers marching through the brush acre-by-acre. There's even a pop-up city that has developed on the cow pastures around Centerville.
But so far, the efforts have come up empty.
“Right now every indication we have is that he’s still out here,” TDCJ spokesperson Robert Hurst said.
Also Wednesday, authorities released photos of Lopez that were taken by surveillance cameras shortly before he boarded the bus last Thursday
“I’ve had a lot of people comment that he’s got a smirk on his face so who knows what he was thinking,” Hurst said.
Officials said they still don't know if Lopez brought anything on the bus that could have helped him escape.
“The proper protocol is for an inmate to be searched before they get onto a transport bus. That’ll be part of our investigation -- to find out if protocol was followed and what was supposed to be done,” Hurst said. “That’s part of our ongoing investigation is to find out exactly how he did it and why it was not noticeable. We’re going to be turning over every possibility to find out what it was that he did and how he did it.”
Hurst said it's still unclear if anyone from the inside helped him get away.
Video taken from a passing car shows the moments shortly after Lopez escaped.
In the distance, you can barely see what appears to be Lopez running through a pasture in his white prison uniform.
A source told KHOU 11 News that on Tuesday officers found evidence left behind by Lopez shortly after the bus crashed.
TDCJ said it was the largest concentrated manhunt since 2004 or 2005.
Lopez was being transported Thursday from the Alfred Hughes Unit outside of Gatesville in central Texas to a prison medical facility in Huntsville when he was able to get loose and stab the bus driver in the hand and chest. He drove off in the bus but didn't get far thanks to another guard who shot out its back tires with a shotgun.
Who is Lopez
Lopez is serving back-to-back life sentences for shooting at a Webb County, Texas sheriff's deputy in 2004 and killing a man with a pickax in Hidalgo County after holding him ransom on a drug debt.
It's not the first time Lopez has managed to hide from law enforcement for an extended period of time. In 2004, he was able to run away from a police chase in South Texas and stayed hidden with the help of a cartel associate, he told investigators at the time.