Lt. Gov. asks if Centerville community was warned about break-in in nearby cabin before family was killed
Mark Collins and his four grandsons were murdered on June 2 by Gonzalo Lopez, a convicted killer who eluded capture for 21 days before being killed in a shootout with law enforcement near San Antonio.
CENTERVILLE, Texas (KBTX) - Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick is demanding accountability and answers from state prison officials following the escape of a TDCJ inmate who alluded authorities for weeks before murdering a family of five near Centerville.
Mark Collins and his four grandsons were killed on June 2 by Gonzalo Lopez, a convicted killer who eluded capture for 21 days before being killed in a shootout with law enforcement near San Antonio.
In a news release sent to KBTX on Tuesday, Patrick said a cabin near the Collins family cabin was broken into a few days prior to their murder and he wants to know if the community was put on high alert as a result.
“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,” said Patrick.
The Texas Rangers are investigating the escape along with TDCJ and Leon County authorities.
In his media release, Patrick said he wants the following questions answered:
- 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?
Patrick, who attended the funeral of the victims, called the situation preventable.
“This is a crime that was preventable on several levels and should never have happened. My request for an investigation is not about affixing blame, but rather to ensure TDCJ procedures and protocols are adequate and always followed. There must be accountability. TDCJ is a huge agency. 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,” said Patrick.
“TDCJ has already announced and made changes effective immediately to their protocol of moving dangerous criminals in the future. TDCJ is also conducting an internal investigation. However, I want an independent investigation of the escape and what occurred during those 21 days that resulted in the murder of this precious family. 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,” he said.
“We must answer these questions. We have a duty to all Texans to ensure this never happens to any family again,” said Patrick.
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