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The Texas Department of Criminal Justice will temporarily stop transporting most inmates while it investigates how a convicted murderer escaped from a prison bus last month.
TDCJ will conduct “a comprehensive review of its transportation procedures,” according to a statement from the agency. During the review, transports like transfers between units to adjust the inmate population will be suspended. If moving an inmate is necessary to release them or for an emergency medical appointment while the review is being conducted, they will be transported with additional security in place. TDCJ spokesperson Robert Hurst said usually two officers are on a bus with inmates when they are transported, but three will now be on board.
Hurst said he was “not aware of a suspension like this being done before.” TDCJ did not say how long the review process will take.
The review comes after Gonzalo Lopez, 46, who was serving two life sentences, escaped May 12. He was being taken from the Alfred Hughes Unit near Gatesville to a medical appointment in Huntsville when he was somehow able to remove his handcuffs, cut through a metal door and attack the bus driver, causing the vehicle to stop. Lopez fled into a wooded area and was on the lam for three weeks.
Authorities say Lopez killed one man and his four grandchildren in Leon County while on the loose. Lopez was apprehended and shot by law enforcement on June 2 in Jourdanton, over 200 miles from where Lopez was originally housed in Gatesville, and 250 miles from where the victims died.
As reported by The Washington Post, authorities believe Lopez killed Mark Collins, 66, and his four grandchildren, Waylon, 18; Carson, 16; Hudson, 11; and Bryson, 11. The Collins family released a statement on Facebook via their pastor, asking for privacy at this time and noting, “These precious people who loved and were loved by so many will never be forgotten.”
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