TEXAS – The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) will resume inmate transportation starting Monday, June 13 after temporarily stopping it to investigate how a convicted murderer escaped from a bus last month and allegedly killed a man and his four grandsons.
TDCJ said the temporary pause allowed the agency to “conduct a comprehensive review of transportation processes.”
“The public’s safety is the first duty and highest obligation for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice,” said Executive Director Bryan Collier. “We have completed a review of the agency’s transportation protocols and will be taking the necessary steps to add additional security measures when moving inmates throughout the state on its roadways,” he added.
The agency said it will take the following new measures during the transportation process:
• 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 at 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
The changes come after Gonzalo Lopez, who was a member of the Mexican drug cartels, fled a prison bus on May 12 after breaking free from his restraints and from a caged area of the vehicle. Lopez stabbed and injured the bus driver before escaping into a wooded area near Centerville, which is between Dallas and Houston.
Authorities believe that Lopez killed 66-year-old Mark Collins, and his four grandsons, Waylon Collins, 18; Carson Collins, 16; Hudson Collins, 11; and Bryson Collins, 11. Waylon, Carson, and Hudson were brothers and Bryson was their cousin. Investigators say Lopez stole an AR-15-style rifle and a pistol from the family’s ranch near Centerville, as well as a truck that he drove about 220 miles to Atascosa County, south of San Antonio, where officers fatally shot him last week.