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Evidence links Evan Ebel to Colorado prisons chief murder

Investigators found evidence, including bullet casings, linking former inmate and prison gang member Evan Ebel to a Texas shoot-out and the murder of Colorado prisons chief Tom Clements.

Rodger Mallison/The Fort Worth Star-Telegram/AP
At a news conference in Decatur, Texas, Friday, Wise County Sheriff David Walker steps in to help Montague County Sheriff Paul Cunningham answer an emotional question about a deputy who was shot Thursday. Investigators are trying to piece together whether Evan Ebel also killed Colorado prisons chief Tom Clements and a pizza delivery man.

Physical evidence gathered so far in the shooting death of Colorado prisons chief Tom Clements has begun to confirm suspicions that Evan Ebel committed the crime before speeding to Texas where he was killed in a shoot-out with police.

Police at the scene of the Texas confrontation with Ebel have recovered Hornady 9mm bullet casings – the same brand and caliber used to kill Mr. Clements. The automobile Ebel was driving before he plowed into an 18-wheel truck and emerged shooting at police – a 1991 black Cadillac – appears similar to a car seen in Clements’ neighborhood the night of that shooting.

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.

As for motive, that remains unclear, although 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.

Meanwhile, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper acknowledged Friday that he is friends with Ebel’s father, Jack Ebel, a gas and oil lawyer in Boulder. They worked together at an oil company when Hickenlooper was a geologist, and they have stayed close, the Denver Post reports.

Gov. Hickenlooper said that when he interviewed Clements for the job as corrections department director, he did mention that he knew someone whose child was in administrative segregation (solitary confinement), the newspaper reported

"It's a hotly contested issue right now across the country, and one of the things that Tom Clements believed that could do more harm than good," Hickenlooper said. "I said I knew someone in administrative segregation and the family was very concerned and that it was affecting them in a very negative way."

That personal connection between Hickenlooper and Jack Ebel apparently had nothing to do with Evan Ebel’s release on parole January 28, which was mandatory under Colorado law since he had served his full sentence.

Ebel had been in and out of prison in Colorado over the past decade for various offenses, including assaulting a prison guard in 2008. His list of nine felonies over a four-year period includes aggravated robbery, assault, and menacing. Some have suggested that Ebel was ordered by a gang “shot caller” to kill Cements.

Evan Ebel’s father Jack, described in media reports as a concerned and caring parent, once testified before the Colorado state legislature about the added damage solitary confinement was doing to a son he believed to be psychologically disturbed.

Jack Ebel had raised his two children as a single father. Evan Ebel’s teen-age sister was killed in an automobile accident, which may have added to emotional and behavioral difficulties that had led his parents to enroll him in special treatment programs from an early age. Within weeks of his sister’s death, he was committing some of the most violent acts that eventually put him into prison for the next eight years – where he became involved with the 211 Crew gang.

In the Wheat Ridge community where Ebel grew up, his former friends are in a state of shock, reports the Daily Beast.

“I thought Evan had gotten his life together,” said childhood friend Ricky Alengi.

Apparently that was not the case.

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