HUSTAN – The Texas prison system has temporarily suspended the transportation of prisoners as it investigates how a convicted murderer escaped from a bus last month and later killed a man and four of his grandchildren.
“The agency is conducting an internal review of serious incidents and intends to engage an outside firm to conduct an independent review to identify factors that could have led to (Gonzalo) Lopez’s escape,” the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said in a statement. statement on Monday. It was not specified how long it would take to complete the internal review.
The agency said that if it needed to transport a prisoner for immediate medical purposes or for release, it would be safer.
Such additional security measures were taken when a van carrying an inmate from a hospital to an East Texas jail collided with another vehicle Tuesday on a freeway north of Houston, the prison agency said. Three guards were injured but were expected to survive. The prisoner was in stable condition.
Lopez, who killed on behalf of Mexican drug cartels, escaped from a prison bus on May 12 after escaping due to restrictions and out of a car cage. Lopez stabbed and wounded the bus driver before fleeing to a wooded area near Centerville, between Dallas and Houston.
Authorities believe Lopez killed 66-year-old Mark Collins and four of his grandchildren, 18-year-old Waylan Collins, on Thursday; Carson Collins, 16; Hudson Collins, 11; and Bryson Collins, 11. Whelan, Carson, and Hudson were brothers, and Bryson was their cousin. Investigators say Lopez stole an AR-15 rifle and pistol from a family ranch near Centerville, as well as a truck he drove about 220 miles (350 kilometers) to Athos County, south of San Antonio, where officers were killed shot him. late on Thursday.
Texas Sen. John Whitmeyer, who called for a temporary halt to the transportation of prisoners, praised changes in the prison agency’s policies.
“While the investigation into what happened to the recent escape and tragic murder of five members of the Collins family is ongoing, we must act quickly to ensure that no other Texan is in danger of losing his life or harming a runaway prisoner.” which is being transported to Texas Roads, ”Whitmeire, a Democrat who chairs the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, said in a written statement.
The committee is likely to hold a hearing this summer to consider what happened and the police jail system involved in transporting prisoners, said Lara Wendler, a Whitmire spokeswoman.
The state senator suggested that the Department of Criminal Justice keep violent criminals in prison wards closer to medical facilities or have medical teams visit them.
Whitmeyer also called for extra security during the transportation of prisoners, including having another car with armed officers behind it.
Funeral services for Mark Collins and his grandchildren, who were from Houston suburb Tomball, were scheduled for Saturday.
During Sunday’s service at the family church in Houston, Glen Collins, Mark Collins’ brother, said his faith helps him survive this difficult time.
“Here I find comfort and consolation. … There is definitely a goal in this. … I lost my best friend. He kept me sharp. But there is a purpose, ”said Glen Collins.
Follow Juan A. Lausanne on Twitter at www.twitter.com/juanlozano70
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