How Texas boys’ dream trip ended in family massacre at hands of fugitive

On Thursday, Mark Collins brought his four grandsons Waylon, Karson, Hudson, and Bryson up to his ranch for a quintessential southern boy’s dream: going fishing on big ponds and taking boats out, as well as shooting guns.

Although Collins was aware that authorities had been searching the surrounding area for a convicted killer associated with a Mexican narcotics syndicate, who had escaped from a prison bus three weeks prior, he may not have been aware that the fugitive had allegedly committed a burglary in a neighboring house, as stated by family friend David Crain.

The grandsons of Collins and his arrival within hours were dead. The escapee, Gonzalo Lopez, 46-year-old, had stolen guns and a truck from the ranch before the police shot him dead more than 200 miles away.

Mark Collins, 66; Waylon Collins, 18; Karson Collins, 16; Hudson Collins, 11; and Bryson Collins, both 11, were recognized by authorities from Crime Stoppers of Houston on Friday as the five family members killed by Lopez in the last moments of his escape from the authorities.

During a news conference on Friday, the pastor of the family, Steve Bezner, stated that Waylon, Karson, and Hudson were siblings, while Bryson was their cousin.

The boys played baseball and football while on vacation from classes at Tomball Independent School District, which serves a suburb of Houston. They had gone up to their grandfather’s ranch to spend a week fishing and hunting.

Bryson had just been baptized into his family’s Christian faith during a pool swimming event three days ago. Waylon had recently graduated from high school.

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Crain, the family acquaintance, expressed, “Those children were intelligent, radiant stars – what occurred to the Collins family is simply indescribable. This is truly challenging to endure, even for the most resilient individuals.”

On May 12, the bus driver who was attacked and stabbed in Centerville, a rural area between Dallas and Houston in Leon County, managed to crawl out of a caged area of the bus and remove his restraints before officers from the local government headquartered in Centerville, ducked gunfire and apprehended him. He had been driving a bus for the Texas state prison in Huntsville.

Law enforcement agencies launched a manhunt involving hundreds of officers to capture Lopez, offering a reward of $50,000 for any leading information and conducting a thorough search of the plane.

In 2004, Lopez, a deputy sheriff from Webb County, Texas, who was serving two life sentences for shooting a deputy sheriff, knew a man who had been kidnapped near the border with Texas and held for ransom, owing a drug debt of over $40,000 to Maña La. He then used a pickaxe to kill the man in 2005.

Stated Crain, on every occasion it was evident. It was apparent when Lopez was not in custody, authorities in charge of the investigation had conducted multiple searches on the Collins family ranch.

On Thursday morning, Crain is unsure if his friend Mark Collins received that information prior to bringing his grandchildren to the ranch. Investigators had concluded that Lopez had unlawfully entered a nearby property on Monday, but then, referring to details from state authorities, Crain stated.

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The corpses of the four kids and their grandfather were discovered when authorities went and inspected the ranch, following a relative’s call to the police requesting them to do so due to Mark Collins’ failure to contact another family member later on Thursday. Furthermore, their white pickup truck was nowhere to be found.

Although they haven’t explicitly stated the method, investigators have expressed their suspicion that Lopez unlawfully entered the residence on the ranch and perpetrated the murder of all individuals present.

Authorities reported that Lopez drove across a strip of spikes that officers rendered the truck inoperable by deploying. Police in Jourdanton, a Texas town approximately 220 miles southwest of Centerville, observed Lopez operating the vehicle and gave chase.

Officers from the police department who were wounded subsequently died in a shootout. It appears that a pistol and an AR-15 rifle were stolen from the Lopez ranch, and the perpetrators were armed.

Bezner, the pastor of the Collins family, expressed that the victims are beloved members who remain devout. “Although we cannot comprehend the reasons, we still have faith that God is benevolent and that he stands by our side in these challenging times,” Bezner stated.

The Collinses said Crain, however, are still closely monitoring the ongoing investigation into how exactly Lopez managed to elude capture and escape.

“If measures can be implemented to ensure it does not occur again, then that is the direction we should take,” Crain stated.

Andy Kahan, from Houston Crime Stoppers, urged the public to consider donating to an online GoFundMe campaign meant to cover the funeral expenses for the slain members of the Collins family.

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“This is the most terrible that you can possibly imagine,” Kahan said. “It doesn’t get any worse.”

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