Sad new details as man and four grandsons killed by escaped prisoner

·News Reporter
·3-min read

Five family members who were allegedly killed by an escaped inmate at their ranch was just hours into their "dream" trip, a family friend has revealed.

The 66-year-old grandfather, Mark Collins, arrived at the family cabin in Centerville, Texas on Thursday with four of his seven grandchildren – brothers Waylon, 18, Carson, 16, and Hudson, 11, and their cousin, Bryson Collins, 11 – but they were all found dead just hours later.

Police believe escaped fugitive Gonzalo Lopez was behind the brutal deaths. He was on the loose in the area after breaking free from a prison bus three weeks earlier, according to various reports.

Police believe the family arrived at the Leon County property on Thursday and the victims were killed that afternoon, Jason Clark, chief of staff for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said. The cause of their deaths has not been released.

Carson, Hudson and Waylon Collins killed in Texas
Carson,16, Hudson, 11, and Waylon, 18, were siblings and were killed at their family ranch, alongside their grandfather Mark and cousin Bryson. Source: GoFundMe

The family visit the ranch often, family friend David Crain said. His own kids often joined them, particularly during school holidays.

"They were up there with their grandad fishing and doing what kids do," he said at a press conference on Saturday. "That ranch is a kids' dream."

The kids enjoyed a range of outdoor activities including hunting in the woods and swimming in the lake but 18-year-old Waylon in particular "loved to fish", Mr Crain said.

"What happened to the Collins family is just unspeakable – those kids were bright, shining stars. Even [for] the hardest of the hard – this is really difficult to take."

Fugitive fled in family's vehicle

Police said Lopez stole a vehicle from the family cabin after fleeing the area which was later located in San Antonio, some 321 kilometers from the Collins property.

After a short chase, Lopez crashed into a tree and began firing at officers, but was shot and killed in a dramatic shootout, NBC News reported.

Bryson Collins and Mark Collins killed in Texas
The family had planned a 'dream' fishing trip but were killed just hours in. Source: GoFundMe

Mr Crain said Mr Collins had been made aware of the ongoing manhunt in the area, but he may not have been told about an alleged break-in at the home next door to his ranch just days before his arrival.

It's not known if Lopez was in the house when the family arrived, or if he broke in after, but authorities believe the 46-year-old prison escapee killed all five family members before fleeing the property in the white ute.

Family 'incredibly loved' by community

The family’s pastor, Steve Bezner, said the Collins family is devastated and said the grandfather and his grandkids were well known in the community and "incredibly loved".

"Mark was a very active husband, father and grandfather who loved his grandchildren dearly and loved to spend time with them outdoors," he said. "The boys were all involved in a variety of community activities — football, baseball, soccer."

The family, who have requested privacy, released a statement stating: "These precious people who loved and were loved by so many will never be forgotten. The impact on their family and friends cannot be overstated."

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