Gun ties parolee to slaying of Colorado corrections chief
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Gun evidence links a Colorado parolee fatally shot in Texas with the death of Colorado's corrections chief, investigators said on Monday.
The El Paso County sheriff's office said that “unique and often microscopic markings” found on shell casings in Texas and Colorado lead investigators to conclude that the gun Evan Ebel used to shoot at authorities in Texas was the same gun used to kill Tom Clements in his home last week.
It had been known that the casings found at both scenes were of the same caliber and brand, but the announcement was the first time Colorado investigators made a direct link between Ebel and Clements' death.
What remained unknown though was why Clements was killed when he answered his front door on Tuesday night and whether Ebel acted alone.
“There are no answers at this time surrounding motive, and gaining these answers could be a lengthy process for investigators,” Lt. Jeff Kramer, El Paso County sheriff's spokesman, said in statement.
The announcement was made hours after hundreds of people, including corrections officials and guards from as far away as Morocco, gathered for a memorial service for Clements.
The crowd in New Life Church included 39 current and former corrections chiefs and guards from 14 states. A delegation of corrections officials from Morocco attended, along with dignitaries including Gov. John Hickenlooper and U.S. Attorney John Walsh.
Hickenlooper and Clements' widow both spoke about his strong belief in redemption. His family said he decided as a teenager to work in corrections after visiting an uncle in prison, and he worked to reduce the use of solitary confinement in Colorado prisons.
Standing with her two daughters, Lisa Clements said her husband of 28 years would want justice as well as forgiveness.
“We want everyone who hears Tom's story to know that he lived his life believing in redemption, in the ability of the human heart to be changed. He would want justice certainly, but moreover he'd want forgiveness. Our family prays for the family of the man who took Tom's life and we will pray for forgiveness in our own hearts and our own peace,” said Lisa Clements, a psychologist who oversees Colorado's state mental health institutes.
Hickenlooper, who hired Clements about two years ago, told mourners that Clements was pragmatic and principled.
“He had common sense and he had courage,” Hickenlooper said.
Authorities say the car Ebel had in Texas is similar to one seen not far from Clements' home the night he was killed.
A federal law enforcement official said Ebel had been a member of the 211s, a white supremacist prison gang in Colorado. Kramer said investigators are trying to determine whether there was gang involvement in the killing, but he stressed that's only one aspect of a broad investigation.
Denver police say Ebel is a suspect in the March 17 slaying of pizza delivery man Nathan Leon.