TDCJ temporarily suspends transport of inmates in wake of Gonzalo Lopez’s escape

Here's what we know

HOUSTON – There are new questions surrounding the death of five family members who were killed in Centerville.

Some believe that more should have been done to prevent last week’s tragic outcome, and now they are calling for change.

“It was a horrible failure by correction officers,” said Texas Senator John Whitmire, (D) District 15.

On Monday, Whitmire said he called for a suspension on transporting all Texas prison inmates who are serving time for capital murder until the Texas Department of Criminal Justice can come up with a fail-safe plan.

Hours later, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said it has temporarily suspended the transport of inmates as they continue to review transportation procedures.

“TDCJ has temporarily suspended the transport of inmates as the agency conducts a comprehensive review of its transportation procedures. If it becomes necessary to do a transport such as releasing or an emergency medical appointment, additional security measures will be implemented. The agency is conducting an internal Serious Incident Review and also intends to bring in an outside firm to conduct an independent review to identify factors that may have lead to the escape of Lopez.”

This suspension comes just days after five members of the Collins family were murdered in a home in Centerville by Gonzalo Lopez, a cartel member convicted of capital murder, weeks after he escaped from a prison bus while he was being transported to a doctor’s appointment.

“I’m on top of trying to determine, do you normally have three guards and you only had two? (If so,) why? Is it a staffing issue?” Whitmire said.

He also added that there should be three armed guards on prison buses at all times and a trailing security vehicle with armed guards. More importantly, he said there needs to be a model of health care that keeps violent offenders closer to prison hospitals.

“This was a mass murder. You can’t sugarcoat that. There are so many questions this opens up,” said Andy Kahan, Director of Victim Services for Crime Stoppers.

Kahan and Whitmire have been talking about the kind of action that is needed in the wake of this horrific tragedy.

“You bring the physician to where you are. I cant see what was so pressing. I would certainly hope that this could be a catalyst for change,” Kahan said.

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