HUNTSVILLE, Texas — Officials with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice have suspended all transportation of prison inmates after five people died last week at the hands of escaped killer Gonzalo Lopez.
"TDCJ has temporarily suspended the transport of inmates as the agency conducts a comprehensive review of its transportation procedures," Robert Hurst, a communications officer with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, said in a statement to 25 News.
Hurst said prisoners will only be transported if it's a medical emergency but stressed that added security measures will be taken. He did not elaborate on what extra security measures would be implemented.
Officials said an independent firm will conduct an investigation on what may have contributed to the cartel killer's escape.
Two prison guards transported Lopez and several other inmates aboard a bus from a medical facility in Huntsville, when the convict made a brazen escape near Centerville last month.
Lopez, 46, was killed late last Thursday in a shootout with law enforcement as authorities named him a "prime suspect" in the murder of five. He had been on the run since escaping a prison bus May 12 in Leon County.
Authorities say Lopez killed a Houston family of five in their weekend cabin and took their pickup truck. He was spotted in the truck in Jourdanton, Texas, roughly 35 miles south of San Antonio.
A shootout ensued — and Lopez was killed — after authorities used spike strips to blow out the tires. Lopez came out of the truck shooting an AR-15 at officers.
Officers there engaged in gunfire with Lopez, killing him, according to Jason Clark with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. In addition to the AR-15, he had a pistol, Clark said.
The rural cabin where the family was killed is along Hwy 7 west of Centerville. Authorities found the bodies of a grandfather and four grandchildren inside.
The cabin is located near where Lopez escaped the prison bus. It wasn't immediately clear if Lopez had been staying in the cabin since his escape.
Affiliated with the “Mexican Mafia,” Lopez had ties to San Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley.
In 2006, he was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of capital murder and aggravated kidnapping.
He received a second life sentence in 2007 for attempted capital murder. In 1996, he received two eight-year sentences for two counts of aggravated assault.