THE victims, believed to have been killed by escaped inmate Gonzalo Lopez at their family vacation home, have been identified as Mark Collins and his four grandchildren, aged between 11 and 18.
Convict Lopez, 46, was shot dead in a shootout with police Thursday night after investigators believed he was involved in a family murder in Centerville, Texas hours earlier.
Collins and the four boys — 18-year-old Waylon Collins, 16-year-old Carson, 11-year-old Hudson, and her 11-year-old cousin Bryson — resided at a family ranch off Highway 7 near Centerville, according to KHOU. Officials believe they arrived at the ranch Thursday morning, hours before they were killed.
The family released a statement Friday night, which was read at a news conference by Andy Kahan with Crime Stoppers Houston.
“We are devastated by the loss of our dear family members at the family ranch in Centerville, Texas. These precious people who have loved and been loved by so many will never be forgotten,” the statement said.
Officials speaking at that news conference said, “This is as bad as it gets,” and called the situation “heartbreaking.”
David Crain, a longtime family friend, said the loss “will be irreparable”.
The three brothers — Waylon, Carson, and Hudson — were reportedly their parents’ only children.
Crain added that Hudson was christened at the family pool just three days ago.
The Tomball Independent School District sent out a letter Friday saying all four children are her students.
“The lives of four Tomball ISD students and their grandfather were taken from us by the escaped Texas fugitive near Centerville on Thursday,” the school said.
“The loss of a student, for whatever reason, is heartbreaking, but to lose four so tragically is excruciating, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of these beloved students and their grandfather.”
Tomball schools are out for the summer, but the district said grief counselors would be made available.
Waylon Collins was a well-known athlete and had just graduated from Tomball High School. He was also a referee for Tomball Little League, which released a statement saying they were “deeply saddened” to learn of the tragedy.
“We mourn these lives and pray for her family and everyone who knew her. One of the kids was a referee in Tomball Little League. Our baseball community is heartbroken to lose a colleague and friend.”
The shooting happened in Jourdanton, Texas, just south of San Antonio.
According to authorities, Lopez had in the car an AR-15 and a handgun that likely came from the apartment where he murdered the family.
The Texas Department of Justice said they received a call from someone who was concerned after not hearing from an elderly relative.
Officers went to the apartment building and discovered the bodies, noting that a vehicle was also missing.
A 1999 white Chevrolet Silverado belonging to the Collins family was not at the residence.
Police believed Lopez may have been driving the vehicle and was armed.
Lopez escaped on May 12 from a prison bus bound for a doctor’s appointment in Huntsville.
Lopez somehow managed to free himself from his hand and leg cuffs and cut through the cage’s expanded metal before crawling out of the floor, TDCJ said.
Lopez then attacked the bus driver, who stopped the bus. At some point during the altercation, the bus driver was stabbed and injured in the hand and chest, he survived his wounds.
The driver sustained stab wounds to his hand and chest, according to Jason Clark, chief of staff for the Texas Department of Justice.
An officer at the end of the bus then got off and approached Lopez. But the occupant climbed back on board and drove off.
Officers shot Lopez and managed to disable the bus by shooting a rear tire. The bus was able to cover a short distance before Lopez got off and ran into the woods.
There were 16 other prisoners on the bus, but no one else escaped.
“He’s smart,” TDCJ spokesman Robert Hurst said last month. “He did that once before, hiding down in South Texas in Webb County for almost nine days.”
Lopez has a long criminal record dating back to 1996 when he was convicted of two counts of aggravated assault.
He was sentenced to eight years in prison.
Then, in 2006, Lopez was convicted of capital murder and aggravated kidnapping and sentenced to life in prison.
In 2007, Lopez received a second life sentence after a conviction for attempted capital murder in another county.
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https://www.the-sun.com/news/5482766/gonzalo-lopez-escaped-inmate-killed-grandfather-four-kids/ Gonzalo Lopez’s victims have been identified as Mark Collins and 4 grandsons, aged 11 to 18, who were shot dead by an escaped convict