BRYAN, Texas — Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick wants questions answered by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice on how escapee inmate Gonzalo Lopez escaped.
Patrick is asking for an investigation to begin by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). Patrick sent a letter to Texas Rangers, questioning TDCJ'S procedures the day Lopez escaped.
Gonzalo Lopez, murdered a family of five, Mark Collins and his four grandsons while hiding out in their cabin from police.
"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, said Patrick.
Patrick attended Collin's funeral and said the family was a strong Christian family. He also mentioned despite the circumstances, the funeral was amazing and inspiring to the 4,000 people attending.
Mark Collins, 66, along with 18-year-old Waylon Collins, 16-year-old Carson Collins, 11-year-old Hudson Collins, and 11-year-old Bryson Collins was honored during a funeral service at Champion Forest Baptist Church on Saturday, June 11, 2022.
"We must answer these questions. We have a duty to all Texans to ensure this never happens to any family again, said Patrick
Patrick said the crime was preventable on several levels and shouldn't have happened. He explained his main goal for the investigation is not to put the blame, but to make sure TDCJ procedures are adequate and remained followed.
Patrick wants the Texas Ranger's investigation to answer his questions about Lopez's escape:
- 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?
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.