Tributes are flowing for the Collins family of Tomball, Texas, after a cartel murderer on the run killed five relatives, including four boys ages 11-18, at their grandfather’s weekend ranch. One person who knows the family wrote that they are “some of the finest Christian people you’ll ever want to meet.”
The victims were identified as grandfather Mark Collins, 66, and his four grandsons: Waylon Collins, 18; Carson Collins, 16; Hudson Collins, 11, who were brothers, and their cousin Bryson Collins, 11. The family has belonged to Houston Northwest Church for 40 years.
David Crain, a long-time friend of the Collins family, is a law enforcement officer. He said the tragedy is “unspeakable. Those kids were bright, shining stars.” Speaking at a news conference, he said, “We coached them through baseball.” Hudson was recently baptized three days ago in the family swimming pool. Faith is a central part of their family, a spokesman said at the news conference.
Loved ones have also posted tributes to the youths and their grandfather on social media.
Crain, the family’s pastor and another representative of the Collins family spoke about the tragedy on June 3, 2022. They said there is one verified GoFundMe.
“We are devastated by the loss of our dear family members at the family ranch in Centerville, Texas,” a family statement, read at the news conference, said. “…These precious people who loved and were loved by so many will never be forgotten. The impact on their family and friends can not be overstated.”
Through their representatives, the Collins family requested prayer. “This is about as bad as it gets,” said one man authorized to speak on their behalf. “It doesn’t get any worse,” said another family representative. The family, which goes back generations in the area, was described as incredibly active in the community, well-known, and loved.
A family representative described the ranch as a “kids’ dream,” saying that the slain boys loved to fish.
A family representative said during the news conference that the grandfather was aware that an inmate had escaped in the area, and law enforcement had been in touch with the family early on. Law enforcement officers were clearing the properties around Centerville, Texas. There was a burglary a few days before the murders in the house next door, which was linked to the fugitive, but family representatives aren’t sure whether law enforcement told Mark Collins about it. They don’t think, though, that he would have exposed the kids to the danger had he known.
The murders, which took place in Centerville, Texas, have rocked the Tomball School District, where all of the boys were students. “Please join us in prayer for the Collins family as our community comes together in sorrow to mourn the tragic loss of five precious lives yesterday,” Tomball Pregnancy Center wrote on Facebook.
The suspected killer Gonzalo Lopez was an escaped fugitive and capital murder convict who was shot and killed by law enforcement while on the run on June 2, 2022, but not before he slew the family at their weekend ranch house to steal their farm truck.
In May 2022, Lopez was added to the top 10 most wanted list in Texas, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. Lopez worked for a drug cartel, according to The Independent.
Here’s what you need to know about the Collins Family:
The Family Has ‘Unrelenting Faith,’ Their Pastor Says
At the news conference, the family’s pastor Steve Bezner of Houston Northwest Church, said he was the pastor for the Collins family since 2013. “They are a family of the greatest character, the deepest faith, and unrelenting kindness and love.” He said they were pillars in the church and community for over 40 years.
The family has “unrelenting faith,” said the pastor. The surviving family members told him that they did not understand why the tragedy had occurred but continued to say that they “trust that God is good” and that God is with them.
A man wrote on Facebook, “Please pray for the Collins family. They experienced five murders, four of them children, yesterday. My family has known this family for years and we all worshiped at the same church. Such a loving, godly, tight-knit family. This is beyond horrific! Please pray for the comfort and power of the Holy Spirit to surround and sustain this family.”
Sickening. An escaped prisoner killed four boys (ages 11-18) and their grandfather last night west of Centerville, Texas. The grandfather had taken his four grandsons hunting at their weekend retreat home. The boys and their grandfather were some of the finest Christian people you’ll ever want to meet. Three boys were brothers, the only children of their grieving parents. The grandfather was the father of the man who lost all his sons. The other young boy was the brothers’ cousin. The guns used in the murders were the grandfather’s guns, stolen by the criminal after he broke into the home. Evil people kill people, not guns. Don’t be duped. Many of us are friends with this wonderful family. Though unnamed at this time, please pray for the family.
A woman wrote on Facebook, “Please join me in surrounding the Collins family and loved ones in prayers and strength. A sweet family friend, my brother and sister in laws best friends. May they feel everyone’s love and support after this unbearable tragedy! My heart and mind have been so heavy since last night. Hug your loved ones extra tight!!”
The Four Deceased Youths Were Students in the Tomball School District & the Oldest Boy Was an Umpire for Tomball Little League
“It is with sadness and a heavy heart that I share the devastating news of a tragedy that has affected our Tomball community,” Tomball ISD wrote in a statement.
“The loss of four Tomball ISD students and their grandfather were taken from us on Thursday by the escaped Texas fugitive near Centerville.”
The district continued, “The loss of a student, for any reason, is heartbreaking, but to lose four in such a tragic way is excruciating, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of these beloved students and grandfather.”
They continued, “We ask that you extend your prayers and support to these families who need us the most at this time. We share a special bond in Tomball and understand this will personally affect many students and families in our small community.”
Tomball Little League wrote on Facebook, “Please join us as we mourn the loss of four Tomball ISD students. The oldest of these children was an umpire at Tomball Little League.”
A former high school graduate in Tomball posted a tribute to Waylon Collins, whose Facebook page was filled with pictures of him playing baseball. “Big prayers for the Collins family🤍. Rest in peace Waylon, you were so so loved and taken way too soon. Fly high sweet boy,” she wrote on Facebook.
The Youths Were Visiting Their Grandfather on His Centerville, Texas, Ranch
The youths were visiting their grandfather on his Centerville ranch, according to KHOU-TV.
KHOU-TV’s Jason Miles wrote on Facebook that the victims were “three brothers ages 11-18 along with an 11 year-old cousin and their grandad. hey were at a property in Centerville used for hunting, etc. The three brothers were their mom and dad’s only kids 🙏🏼.”
According to News4San Antonio, Lopez “killed a family of five” in their weekend cabin and stole their truck.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice reported that it received a call from someone who was concerned about an elderly relative. That led to the discovery of the bodies. The agency wrote on Twitter that the victims were one adult and four minors.
The family was from Houston, according to the television station. They had “no link to Lopez,” the station reported.
A woman who knew the family wrote on Facebook, “Sometimes a news story hits farrrrrr too close to home. Y’all. I can’t even. These are my friends!! 😭😭😭 I am broken!! My heart is shattered for my friends!! My mind can’t comprehend!! This world needs Jesus!!”
A relative wrote that his “uncle and 4 of my sweet nephews” were killed and said “they went up to our family ranch for a day of fishing, having no idea law enforcement had found on Monday that he had been hiding out on the ranch next to ours.”
Authorities Tracked Down Lopez & Killed Him When Lopez Opened Fire at Them
In a news conference, Texas Department of Criminal Justice Chief of Staff Jason Clark said that Lopez’s vehicle was spotted, and the tires were “spiked.” After a short chase and crash, Lopez exited the vehicle with a firearm and engaged law enforcement officers who engaged back and ultimately killed Lopez.
“He has been captured. He is deceased,” Clark said, adding that Lopez was armed with a rifle and a handgun.
Lopez fired several rounds at officers, but no officers were wounded, Clark said, adding that the shooting occurred in a residential area.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice wrote on Twitter, “Law enforcement in Atascosa County located the stolen vehicle, disabled it with spike strips, & gunfire ensued. At approximately 22:30, the TDCJ received information that Lopez had been shot by law enforcement in Jourdanton, Texas, South of San Antonio.”
According to his wanted poster through the Texas Department of Public Safety, Lopez also went by the names Artemio Gonzalo Lopez, Ganzo Lopez, Gonzo Lopez, and Gonzol Lopez.
It says he was affiliated with the Mexican Mafia, saying, “LOPEZ is affiliated with the Mexican Mafia and has ties the Rio Grande Valley and San Antonio.”
He was wanted for “aggravated Assault Against a Public Servant, Escape,” and had previous charges of “Capital Murder, Attempted Capital Murder, Aggravated Assault Against a Public Servant, Aggravated Assault Causes Serious Bodily Injury, Assault Causes Serious Bodily Injury, Aggravated Kidnapping, Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle, Possession of Marijuana, Failure to Stop and Render Aid, Evading Arrest, Escape while Arrested.”
According to the wanted poster, “On May 12, 2022, Gonzalo LOPEZ assaulted a correctional officer while on a TDCJ prison bus and escaped from custody near Centerville, Texas.”
Lopez’s previous crimes were brutal.
According to the Independent, Lopez “worked for the La Mana drug cartel — based in Tamaulipas, Mexico — in 2015,” and he killed a man named Lupe Ramirez “for a $40,000 drug debt.”
Lopez bound the man and dumped him “in a shallow grave” before murdering him with a pick axe, the site reported.
According to KHOU-TV, Lopez also opened fire at a sheriff’s deputy who stopped him while he was on his way to kill another man in Laredo, Texas.