LIVINGSTON – New details are emerging about the five inmates who attempted to escape from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Polunsky Unit in Polk County Friday night.
TDCJ spokesman Jason Clark said the five men had attended a church service in the gym and were walking back to their living quarters a few minutes after 9 p.m. when they bolted for the fence and three wound up with non-life-threatening gunshot wounds.
One of them was cop killer Juan Quintero. He is serving a life sentence on a capital murder conviction in the 2006 shooting death of Houston Police officer Rodney Johnson. Ironically, Quintero was not among the three would-be escapees shot.
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The group also included Michael Dueitt, from Calhoun County, who is serving a life sentence for capital murder; Terry McDonald, from El Paso County, who is serving a life sentence for murder; Donald Gower, from Lampasas County, serving a life sentence for capital murder; and illegal immigrant Albin Zelaya-Zelaya, from Harris County serving a life sentence for burglary with intent to commit a felony.
Clark said one of the picket tower officers saw the men and gave them a verbal command to stop, which they ignored. The officer then opened fire with his AR-15, which alerted the second picket tower officer who also began firing. Between them, the two guards fired 11 rounds. A perimeter patrol unit fired his 12-guage shotgun once at the inmates.
Three sustained gunshot wounds and all sustained lacerations to their hands and faces from the razor wire as they tried to scale the first of two perimeter fences covered in razor wire, Clark said.
It was unknown whether it was a crime of opportunity or something planned, but answering that question will be part of the related investigation, Clark said
The escape attempt will change the classification and restrictions placed on all five and they will face attempted felony escape charges.
Clark maintains that residents of surrounding neighborhoods were never in danger.