HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Texas Rangers were asked to independently investigate how inmate Gonzalo Lopez was able to escape Texas Department of Criminal Justice custody, and avoid capture for three weeks.
The video above is from a previous report.
On May 12, officials said Lopez, a 46-year-old convicted murderer serving a life sentence, was being taken from the Hughes Unit in Gatesville, Texas, to the Estelle Unit in Huntsville for a medical appointment when he escaped.
Lopez was killed during a shootout with law enforcement after they spotted a truck with a license plate matching the one belonging to the five members murdered on their family ranch.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice suspended Texas inmate transports on June 6 in the wake of the chain of events after Lopez managed to overpower guards on a transport bus.
TDCJ resumed transporting inmates on Monday with ramped-up security measures in place. New measures include but are not limited to:
- Three officers will be required on transport buses
- Enhanced search procedures of an inmate before boarding a transport vehicle
- New video surveillance equipment will be installed on transport vehicles
- Inmates determined to be the highest risk will be transported by themselves
- Unit medical capabilities will be enhanced to reduce the need for offsite transport
- An independent security review will be conducted by an outside party
On Tuesday, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick requested help from the Texas Rangers, claiming that the Collins family murders that were preventable and wants to ensure TDCJ procedures and protocols are adequate and always followed.
Patrick said there are "several basic questions" that he wants the Texas Rangers to find answers to:
- How did the prisoner, who was handcuffed and locked in a secure cage inside the prison bus, remove his handcuffs, escape the cage and attack the driver?
- How did the second guard in the back of the bus not see what was happening?
- Was the prisoner fully searched as protocol required before getting on the bus?
- How was the escapee able to elude hundreds of law enforcement, bloodhounds, and air patrols for several weeks?
- Was the community put on high alert after a cabin near the Collins family cabin was broken into a few days prior to their murder?
"As to the cabin that was broken into days before the murder, fingerprints and DNA samples were taken, but results were not expected back for 48 hours. By the time the results came back with a positive match to the escapee, it was too late for the Collins family," Patrick said. "There are over 100,000 inmates in the Texas state prison system along with thousands of employees. It appears that somewhere down the line mistakes were made."
Patrick said he attended the Collin family's funeral at Champion Forest Baptist Church on Saturday.
"The Collins family is a strong Christian family. Their bold and remarkable testimony about their faith, despite this unimaginable devastation to their family, was amazing and inspiring to the 4,000 people who attended the funeral," Patrick said. "We must answer these questions. We have a duty to all Texans to ensure this never happens to any family again."