Skip to main content

Gun links Colorado prison chief's killing to Texas shootout

By Matt Smith, CNN
April 4, 2013 -- Updated 1342 GMT (2142 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Suspect "had an anger and a cruelty" early on, Hickenlooper says
  • Ballistics tests match Colorado prison chief's killing with Texas shootout
  • Colorado holds memorial for slain official
  • Clements oversaw the "darkest of worlds" with the "warmest of hearts," governor says

(CNN) -- The bullets that killed Colorado prison chief Tom Clements came from the gun found with a former inmate who died in a shootout with Texas police two days later, investigators confirmed Monday.

The news came as Colorado held a public memorial service for Clements, the executive director of the state Department of Corrections. The El Paso County, Colorado, Sheriff's Department said it was still trying to determine whether the suspect in Clements' slaying, Evan Ebel, acted alone or what his motive may have been.

"Tom Clements was a remarkable person," Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said. "He oversaw all of the coldest, darkest of worlds with the warmest and, you know, and most tender of hearts."

FBI seeks links in Texas, Colorado killings

Clements was shot to death Tuesday night at his home outside Colorado Springs. Ebel was killed Thursday in northern Texas after a gunbattle with authorities that left a sheriff's deputy wounded.

The 28-year-old was a former white supremacist gang member and the son of a longtime friend of Hickenlooper. Police also said there is a "strong connection" between the killings of Clements and the killing of Nathan Collin Leon, a Denver pizza delivery driver who was found dead in suburban Golden.

Evan Ebel, a former Colorado prison inmate and a former member of a white supremacist group, is suspected of killing Colorado prison chief Tom Clements. Ebel was killed March 21, 2013, in north Texas after a battle with authorities that left a sheriff's deputy wounded. Evan Ebel, a former Colorado prison inmate and a former member of a white supremacist group, is suspected of killing Colorado prison chief Tom Clements. Ebel was killed March 21, 2013, in north Texas after a battle with authorities that left a sheriff's deputy wounded.
Texas car chase tied to Colorado shooting
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
>
>>
Photos: Texas car chase tied to Colorado shooting Photos: Texas car chase tied to Colorado shooting
Suspect 'wanted to make Hitler jealous'
Neighbor: Colorado suspect always angry

Investigators said they have been looking into whether Ebel might have conspired with other inmates to kill Clements. The corrections chief earned widespread recognition not only for prison reforms but also for a crackdown on prison gangs, including the white supremacist 211s, who once counted Ebel among their ranks.

Ebel got out of prison in late January after serving seven years -- three for felony menacing, robbery and assault, another four for assaulting a guard. He spent five years of that time in solitary confinement.

It was his second stretch in prison, after doing one year of a three-year term for armed robbery.

Ebel's father, attorney and former oil executive Jack Ebel, "was one of my first friends in Colorado," Hickenlooper said. But the governor said Evan Ebel "had an anger and a cruelty" from an early age.

"He had a bad streak, and they tried everything," Hickenlooper said.

"One of the things Tom fought for was we have too many people in solitary confinement with mental disorders like Evan Ebel, and we release them -- we won't release them in prison, we release them into the general public," Hickenlooper said. It was a "quiet crusade" for Clements to identify and treat mental illness among prisoners, he said.

The governor said Clements' death was "incomprehensible, but I don't think it is part of a larger conspiracy."

The Texas Rangers said Ebel opened fire on sheriff's deputies northwest of Dallas on Thursday. He slammed the black Cadillac he was driving into a tractor-trailer, then crawled out and fired more shots at deputies before being shot in the head. The 9mm pistol and a Domino's Pizza uniform jacket and box carrier were found with the Cadillac.

Witnesses had reported a similar vehicle, -- a black, boxy car with Colorado license plates -- near Clements' home in Monument the day he was killed. Investigators had already said the brand and caliber of the shells found with the weapon were the same as those found at Clements' home.

CNN's Brooke Baldwin and Janet DiGiacomo contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 0102 GMT (0902 HKT)
A 15-year-old pregnant girl is rescued from slavery, only to be charged with having sex outside of marriage, shocked rights activists say -- a charge potentially punishable by death.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1607 GMT (0007 HKT)
Airports judged on comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
With so many new attractions on the way, the next few years are going to be a roller coaster ride.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 0429 GMT (1229 HKT)
Thomas Malthus famously predicted that rising populations would create a food crunch: Could this be true?
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 0945 GMT (1745 HKT)
The lives of everyone close to Oscar Pistorius and the girl he killed are changed forever, his siblings say.
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1033 GMT (1833 HKT)
From "Sick Man of Europe" to the world's fourth largest economy.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1331 GMT (2131 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 2327 GMT (0727 HKT)
Serbia and Albania try to play but the major game is called off after a drone flying a political flag enters the stadium.
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1136 GMT (1936 HKT)
George Clooney's new wife, is now Amal Clooney, raising the issue of married names.
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1757 GMT (0157 HKT)
The mysterious unmanned X-37B space plane returns to Earth after more than two years in space. But the U.S. Air force isn't saying much.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT