During the first year of the new twenty-first century, seven convicts bust out of a prison labeled as a maximum-security facility in South Texas on December 13th, 2000; the escape set off a huge manhunt that lasted six weeks. The news media labeled the escaped convicts as the “Texas Seven” and they were able to overpower prison guards and civilian employees that were stationed in the maintenance shop they were working in; it was there that they were able to take guns, clothing and stole a vehicle. Adding tension to an already nervous public, a note was left by the escapees saying, “You haven’t heard the last of us yet.”
The fact that this was happening during the peak of the holiday season was bad enough; however, it would become apparent very quickly how smart and dangerous these escaped convicts were. Shortly after fleeing the Connally Unit lockup located in Kenedy, Texas, the escapees were able get their hands on another getaway vehicle. The car supposedly was given to them by the father of one of the fugitives and they ended up in Pearland, Texas where they stole from a Radio Shack store taking police scanners and money. Police quickly knew they were dealing with smart individuals as well as dangerous ones considering the escaped convicts had been imprisoned for a lengthy list of violent crimes that included robbery, murder and rape.
Irving, Texas was the site for their next robbery on Christmas Eve where they raided a sporting goods store and left with a huge amount of weapons and money. During the incident, they horrifically murdered police officer Aubrey Hawkins not only by shooting him several times using multiple weapons but also ran him over. The now infamous Texas Seven escaped to near Woodland Park, Colorado after they bought a motor home, lied to people they met by saying they were Christian missionaries and settled down to hide at a trailer park in that area.
The popular TV program America’s Most Wanted was instrumental in the capture of the escaped convicts as someone phoned in a tip to police on January 22nd, 2001 after seeing the episode that profiled the Texas Seven; this led police to the location the escaped prisoners were hiding at. The police would eventually capture four of the convicts that included ringleader George Rivas while a fifth escapee opted to kill himself when the police had surrounded him. Law enforcement officials would trap the final two convicts in Colorado Springs at a hotel only two days later.
Surrounded, the last of the escapees found themselves in a standoff in which a TV news station was able to establish phone interviews with the fugitives; they insisted the reason they fled from the prison was a protest to shed light against the criminal justice system in Texas. Finally, the last two of the Texas Seven turned themselves over to authorities.
The surviving six members of the Texas Seven were charged for capital murder in February of 2001 for the killing of Officer Hawkins. Ultimately, each member was convicted and received a death sentence.