Charming, fearless and shrewd. That’s how authorities describe George Rivas, the alleged ringleader of the “Texas Seven.”
He's the one fugitive who has gotten the most attention ever since the men devised a plan to break out of a Texas prison together, and did so with apparent ease. He's the one authorities believe led escapees as they allegedly stole at least one automatic rifle, 14 .357-caliber Magnum pistols and 238 rounds of ammunition during their escape, and numerous guns from a sports store while on the run.
He was said to have had a powerful hold on the other escapees. But now he is among the four captured members, along with Michael Rodriguez, Randy Halprin and Joseph Garcia. A fifth, Larry Harper, is dead, and police are still looking for the two remaining fugitives, Donald Newbury and Patrick Murphy.
"George is a leader," says Richard Coons, Rivas' psychiatrist. "He's methodical. He is a manipulator. He has a smooth story that he can tell."
Those who know Rivas believe he loved the media attention surrounding the manhunt, and especially the successful prison break.
"I think George is going to absorb that and think, 'They are right, I am equal to the Dillingers, the Capones, all those big-time guys,'" says Louis Aguillar, defense attorney. "'That's me. I broke out of prison. They didn't."
Aggravated Robbery and Kidnapping
Rivas' record includes numerous counts of aggravated kidnapping, aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon, and aggravated kidnapping with a deadly weapon. The Texas Seven's alleged robbery of an Oshman's sporting goods store in Irving, Texas, would fit Rivas' past.
According to Texas Department of Criminal Justice records, Rivas, in 1993, was found guilty of robbing an Oshman's store during which Rivas approached one victim and ordered him to get handcuffs from a display and handcuff himself and five others to a large piece of machinery. Another victim was told to remove the cash from the cash register and then ordered to handcuff herself to the others. Then he and his codefendants then fled the scene.
Later that same year, Rivas and his same two codefendants entered a Toys R Us store and robbed two store employees using a .38-caliber pistol. Following the robbery, Rivas and his codefendants used those two victims and six other victims as shields in order to facilitate their flight. However, one victim was able to summon police and the subject and his codefendants were arrested before they could leave the scene.
‘They Will Never Catch Me’
Shortly after high school, Rivas was caught on a gun charge, and then a string of armed robberies that sent him to prison. Rivas led a a small gang, catching store personnel off guard by posing as a security specialist.
At Ysleta High School in El Paso, Rivas is hardly remembered, although teachers called him intelligent and "nondescript." Some said he was "clean cut," and never expected he would end up a criminal.
But one teacher did. "If what he needed to do was lie or steal, that was OK," says speech teacher Jeanne Steele. "What I got from him was, he's not going make it. He's going to go to prison. I told him that once, and he just laughed and said, "They will never catch me."
When Rivas broke out of the Connally Unit of the prison Dec. 13, he was serving a life sentence for aggravated kidnapping. When he goes back to prison, he could face the death penalty for killing a cop.ABCNEWS' Bob Jamieson contributed to this report.