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A fugitive suspected of killing five people has been shot and killed by Texas police, ending a three-week manhunt after he escaped from a prison bus, AFP reported.

Gonzalo Artemio López, 46, was serving a life sentence for murder when he escaped from a prison bus on May 12.

Three weeks after a search involving local, state and federal officers, and after a $50,000 reward was placed on his capture, police said Lopez had been killed in a shootout with authorities.

Jason Clark, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, said that on the day of the escape, Lopez sawed through the metal cage in which he was being held on the bus, after which he attacked the driver and fled.

Authorities became aware of his whereabouts after a man contacted police after he had not heard from relatives who had come to the Centerville vacation home.

Arriving at the house, the police found the bodies of an adult and four boys - three brothers and their cousin aged 11 to 18, as well as their grandfather - and launched a search for a missing Chevy Silverado pickup truck from the house.

The stolen truck was discovered later that evening in Jourdanton, about 320 kilometers from Lopez's escape site, authorities said.

Lopez, who was armed with an AR-15 assault rifle and a handgun, was shot and killed during a shootout with law enforcement.

Lopez turned out to be a member of the Mexican mafia and was sentenced to life in prison in 2006 for murder and kidnapping.

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