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Colorado shooting suspect Evan Ebel had 'a streak of cruelty and anger'

Colorado shooting suspect and prison gang member Evan Ebel had been in trouble since he was a teenager, in prison for eight years before his mandatory release on parole in January. His parents say they tried for years to help him. Family friend Gov. John Hickenlooper confirms this.

By Staff writer / March 24, 2013

This undated file photo shows Evan Ebel. The former Colorado inmate and white supremacist is at the center of an investigation into the shooting death of state prisons chief Tom Clements and a pizza delivery man.

Colorado Department of Corrections/AP

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With all evidence so far pointing to Evan Ebel as the shooter who killed Colorado prisons chief Tom Clements, two key questions remain:

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Where did he get the gun all but certain to have been used in the killing of Mr. Clements as well as in the shoot-out with law enforcement officers in Texas a day later, which killed Mr. Ebel? Ebel also is a suspect in the earlier slaying of a Domino Pizza delivery man.

And why was a man who’d spent the last eight years in prison – much of it in solitary confinement because of his frequently violent behavior – allowed to walk free on parole, without treatment for what family members and others said were serious emotional and psychological problems?

Appearing on CNN’s "State of the Union" Sunday, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said, “From the beginning, [Ebel] just seemed to have this bad streak, a streak of cruelty and anger.”

A blog maintained by Ebel's mother, Jody Mangue, documented a son troubled from youth who was sent to behavioral programs in Jamaica, Samoa, Mexico and Utah, reports 7News, an ABC outlet in Denver.

“Some people may blame us for what has happened to Evan,” while her son was still in state prison. Four years had been added to his original sentence when he attacked a prison guard. “I can only say that his dad and I had to make hard decisions when he was younger hoping to avoid where he is now.”

Ebel had the word "hopeless" tattooed on his body and would sometimes sign his name "Evil Evan." 

"They did everything they could," Hickenlooper said, referring Ebel’s parents. "They worked with Evan again and again but to no avail. He had a bad, bad streak."

Gov. Hickenlooper was well familiar with the case, having been friends with the 28 year-old’s father Jack Ebel for many years dating back to when they worked together in the gas and oil industry, Mr. Ebel as a lawyer and Hickenlooper as a geologist.

Evan Ebel’s release on parole January 28 was mandatory under Colorado law since he had served his full sentence. The governor would have had nothing to do with that.

Jack Ebel testified in March 2011 before a committee of the Colorado Legislature regarding a proposal that would require inmates to spend time outside of solitary confinement before leaving prison, 7News reports.

"What I've seen over six years is he has become increasingly ... he has a high level of paranoia and [is] extremely anxious,” Mr. Ebel told lawmakers. “So when he gets out to visit me, and he gets out of his cell to talk to me, I mean he is so agitated that it will take an hour to an hour-and-a-half before we can actually talk.”

Police at the scene of the Texas confrontation with Ebel recovered Hornady 9mm bullet casings – the same brand and caliber used to kill Mr. Clements. 

Also, Ebel’s car contained a work uniform of the type worn by Domino's Pizza delivery man Nathan Leon shot and killed last Sunday night in Denver – two days before the Clements shooting. Investigators have noted a “strong connection” between the two slayings, which suggests that Ebel may have used Mr. Leon’s uniform as a disguise in the Clements incident.

Ebel was a member of the “211 Crew,” also known as the Aryan Alliance, described as a particularly vicious prison gang whose members released from prison carry on criminal activities – including murders – on behalf of the gang. Prison chief Clements, on the job in Colorado for about two years, had begun cracking down on such gangs.

Speaking on CNN Sunday, Hickenlooper said the investigation (including ballistics testing) is continuing and that "all the signs" in the Clements killing seemed to point to Ebel, whom he confirmed had been connected to a prison-based white supremacist group.
 
"We can't see clearly what a motive was," he added.
 
The governor, who said his own personal security had been beefed up recent days, did not rule out the possibility that the Clements killing had been ordered by jailed white supremacist gang leaders targeting public officials from behind bars, reports Reuters.

Meanwhile, the newest warden was sworn in Friday to oversee South Carolina's Lee Correctional Institution, a prison described by Gov. Nikki Haley as a dangerous place "housing the worst of the worst of our convicts."

It was a milestone in the career of Mike McCall, but the warden refused to let his wife accompany him to the ceremony, reports the Associated Press.

"He didn't want anybody seeing the TV or the newspapers to know what she looks like," for fear she could be become a target, said Clark Newsom, spokesman for the South Carolina Department of Corrections. "It's the nature of the business. The average person doesn't realize how dangerous this can be."

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