Captured escapee returned to Gonzales County Jail


Juan Mario Garcia III, 21, of Gonzales, was returned to Gonzales County Jail from La Salle County on the afternoon of Tuesday, July 27.

Garcia escaped from the jail at about 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 21. He was captured while walking along I-35 in La Salle County by Texas Department of Public Safety officers on Sunday, July 25 at about 9 p.m.

On Thursday, July 29, the Sheriff’s office reported that it had no additional information on how Garcia traveled to La Salle County, which is 170 miles away, or his movements up until his capture.

Garcia escaped by scaling two 14-foot concertina-wire-topped fences surrounding the exercise yard at the jail.

Garcia had been at the jail since his July 9 arrest following a nearly two-hour standoff with police at a home in the 1600 block of St. Vincent in Gonzales. Garcia is alleged to have fired shots inside the house – where his girlfriend and her three children were held hostage inside – and at three officers outside the house.

He now faces a charge of Escape, and Failure to Identify – Fugitive from Justice, as well the original charges of Aggravated Assault on a Public Servant and Aggravated Kidnapping.

The exercise area used by the inmates is approximately 30 feet by 40 feet and is surround by the two fences, spaced four-feet apart. The area is monitored by security cameras, but the image quality of the cameras is poor, according to Deputy Chief Chris Aviles. One person monitors multiple camera feeds from throughout the jail complex.

Aviles said Garcia was among six inmates in the yard at the time of the escape. He was not noticed missing until the inmates were brought back into the jail and counted. Aviles said the head count was done about 20 minutes after Garcia escaped.

The yard did not have a deputy in it at the time, as has been the long-standing policy of the department. Aviles said the deputy will now accompany inmates into the yard until necessary repairs are completed.

Without detailing other changes for security reasons, Aviles said a review of Garcia’s escape exposed other potential problems.

A review of the security video showed that Garcia scaled both fences in less than 30 seconds, Aviles said. When he was arrested, Garcia had multiple cuts on his body from the concertina wire, including a deep four-inch long gash on his back.

The jail was fully staffed at the time of the escape.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, it was assisted in an extensive search by the Gonzales Police Department, Texas DPS and DPS Air Assets, Texas Department of Criminal Justice K9 Team, Texas Game Wardens, Guadalupe County Sheriff’s Office, Nixon Police, and Waelder Police.

There is no word if anyone is in line for the $5,000 reward offered for Garcia’s capture.

Aviles said the escape also demonstrated that the department lacked the ability to alert the public of an escape or other safety issue. He said the department is working with County Emergency Coordinator Jimmy Harless to develop a system.

Word of the escape was not shared with the public, The Inquirer, nor the Sheriff’s Facebook page until more than 12 hours later.

Prior escape

Garcia was the first inmate to escape since Joseph Jacques of Nixon in July of 2018. As Jacques was removed from the deputy’s patrol vehicle, he slipped one handcuff off and moved away from the deputy. When the deputy attempted to re-handcuff Jacques, he began to run, jumped onto the security fence, climbed around the razor-wire, and onto the roof of the sheriff’s office building.

He then stole a truck from an oil field service yard and led multiple law enforcement agencies on a vehicle chase through multiple counties.

Officials said the chase began when an officer spotted Jacques more than 30 miles away in Nixon and attempted to stop him.

Matthew Atkinson was Sheriff at the time. Ynclan took office in January.