Slain former inmate a suspect in Colorado prison chief's death
DENVER — Colorado investigators said on Saturday for the first time that a former inmate who was killed in a gunfight with Texas authorities was a suspect in the death of Colorado's state prison system chief.
The evidence gathered in Texas after the death of Evan Spencer Ebel provided a “strong, strong lead” in the fatal shooting of Colorado Department of Corrections Director Tom Clements, who was killed at his front door, El Paso County sheriff's spokesman Jeff Kramer said on Saturday.
Kramer also confirmed Ebel had been a member of the 211s, a white supremacist prison gang in Colorado. It was not known if Ebel knew who Clements was and that he was the state's top prison official, Kramer said.
A darkly ironic connection emerged among Ebel, Clements and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper when the governor confirmed on Friday that he was a longtime friend of Ebel's father, attorney Jack Ebel.
Jack Ebel had testified before Colorado lawmakers two years ago that solitary confinement in a Colorado prison was destroying his son's psyche.
When Hickenlooper interviewed Clements for the top prison job in Colorado, he mentioned the case as an example of why the prison system needed reform, but Hickenlooper said he did not mention Ebel by name. Clements later eased the use of solitary confinement in Colorado and tried to make it easier for people held there to re-enter society.
Hickenlooper's spokesman said Clements did not know specifically who Ebel was.
Clements was shot on Tuesday night when he answered the door of his home in a wooded, rural area north of Colorado Springs.
Kramer said investigators were trying to determine whether the 211 gang was involved in Clements' death.
The Colorado Department of Corrections was also investigating Clements' death, but spokeswoman Alison Morgan declined to say whether the 211 gang was a focus of the inquiry.
Denver police say Ebel was also a suspect in the March 17 slaying of pizza delivery man Nathan Leon. Texas authorities found a Domino's pizza delivery box and a jacket or shirt from the pizza chain in the trunk of the car Ebel was driving.
Authorities previously said that car was similar to one seen not far from Clements' home on the night he was killed, and bullets Ebel fired at Texas police were the same caliber and brand as the bullet or bullets that killed Clements. But until Saturday they had stopped short of saying Ebel was a suspect.
Kramer stressed that investigators have not yet confirmed a link between Ebel and Clements' death. Tests were under way to determine if the weapon used to kill Clements was the same one recovered from Ebel in Texas.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Study a surprise: Commercial bees unfazed by pesticides
- Hostages slain in CIA drone strike in Pakistan, Obama tells nation
- Senate ends five-month wait, confirms Lynch as U.S. attorney general
- Alarm at George H.W. Bush’s home broken for 13 months, watchdog says
- $10B private-physician program serves few vets
- Popeyes offers to rehire fired mom
- Baltimore resident’s death in police custody draws hundreds in protests
- New York’s ‘smart grid’ research could influence other areas
- U.S. moms typically space pregnancies by 2.5 years
- Breast cancers predicted to rise by 50 percent by 2030
- Up to 10 Gitmo detainees may be moved in June