LEON COUNTY, Texas — It’s nearly been a full week since Gonzalo Lopez escaped custody from a bus in east Texas.
A manhunt for the convicted killer has gone on for a full week.
Sitting in her vehicle just yards away from Lopez, Melanie Tieperman and her son were in disbelief as they witnessed the moment he escaped.
Tieperman takes us back and describes what she saw in her own words.
”The Jewett police officer never drew his weapon, tried to chase or shoot at the inmate,” said Melanie Tieperman, who lives in Leon County, Texas.
They watched alongside the road as Lopez jumped a fence, ran up a hill and into the woods.
From that moment forward, their lives were never the same.
”It’s very stressful to have to make an emergency plan with your children not knowing if he attempts to come into the home,” shared Tieperman.
Although it may be a stressful time, Robert Hurst says there is reassurance that the word to look out for Lopez is reaching across the state.
“It tells us that our message is getting out that people are keeping an eye out for him if anybody sees anybody that looks like him, please call your local law enforcement agency. That’s what that person did over there in McLennan county,” said Hurst, Public Information Officer for Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
It may have been a false alarm, but Hurst encourages any truthful sightings to be reported.
Meanwhile, Tieperman does say her level of safety is comforted by the ability to conceal and carry.
She says, “I can’t imagine life or America not having those rights right now, because if I had to hide out in my home with no form of protection for myself or my family, I don’t know how I would feel.”
While law enforcement officers have tirelessly searched for Lopez, many local businesses have stepped up to provide donations.
“And that’s why I live here. Those are the type of people, that you want to be around,” Tieperman says, with tears filled in her eyes.
Law enforcement has received tips but they have come back as false hopes.
This story was first reported by Brittany Defran at KXXV in Waco, Texas.