Memorial stands strong 1 year after manhunt ends for escaped inmate in Centerville

KBTX News 3 at Ten(Recurring)
Published: Jun. 2, 2023 at 9:37 PM CDT
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CENTERVILLE, Texas (KBTX) - It’s been one year since escaped inmate Gonzalo Lopez killed five family members at a home in Centerville.

Mark Collins and his four grandsons, Waylon, Carson, Hudson, and Bryson went to the family cabin for the weekend. That’s where they came face to face with Lopez, who escaped a prison transport bus a month prior. Lopez was serving a life sentence when he escaped the transport bus and was killed in a shootout with law enforcement after killing the Collins family and stealing a vehicle from the cabin.

Since this incident, crosses, flowers and baseball memorabilia have covered the gate to the cabin property.

Incident reports following the escape detailed multiple issues including broken and incorrectly placed handcuffs, a lack of surveillance on the bus and a broken metal detector at the prison. The reports detail that not one single failure led to the escape but a series of errors.

The TDCJ has since submitted a budget request that was approved by legislators that includes money for building upgrades and more surveillance equipment. While TDCJ bus transports resumed shortly after Lopez was killed, the TDCJ said this only happened following new recommendations to add video surveillance and an additional guard on the bus.

Beyond equipment and facility failures, the reports found 28 Texas Department of Criminal Justice employees broke or outright ignored security policies. Trafficking, falsifying documents, advanced notice of transports, and search issues were all violations mentioned in the reports.

For KBTX’s extensive coverage on the escape and the aftermath, click here.