Corrections director killed at his home in Monument
The Colorado Springs Metro Crime Lab has completed the analysis of shell casings collected in Texas by El Paso County Sheriff’s Office investigators. The analysis done by ballistics experts has concluded the gun used by Evan Ebel in Texas was the same weapon used in the shooting death of Tom Clements. The confirmation goes well beyond acknowledging the same caliber and brand of ammunition being used, but rather is based on unique, and often microscopic markings left on the casings at both scenes, according to a release from El Paso County Sheriff's Office received at 2 p.m. Monday.
"Investigators are actively pursuing all pieces of information and angles to determine whether Ebel acted alone in the shooting of Tom Clements or if others were involved. There are no answers at this time surrounding motive and gaining these answers could be a lengthy process for investigators. To safeguard the investigation, we will not provide details on what our investigators have learned thus far, nor will we share details in the future until such time the information does not jeopardize the investigation. Please be mindful that if other people are implicated in this crime, it is imperative we do all we can to aid in the successful prosecution of those responsible, and that starts with the integrity of the investigation."
Sheriff David Walker of Wise County, Texas, said that a vehicle matching earlier descriptions was involved in a high speed chase and shootout earlier. At a news conference, Walker said that the suspect was wounded by deputies in that gunfire exchange and collision with a tractor-trailer, and described the suspect as being on life support and considered brain dead, in briefing on Thursday.
The suspect exchanged fire with Texas deputies using a handgun before and after the crash.
David Walker confirmed during the news briefing Friday that Evan Spencer Ebel, the 28-year-old driver of the Cadillac and a parolee in the Denver metro area, has died in a Texas hospital.
According to a release from El Paso County Sheriff's Office, however:
"Information was posted by the Denver Post which linked a specific suspect to the shooting death of Tom Clements. According to their report, 'Federal and state authorities, speaking on a condition of anonymity, identified the man as Evan Spencer Ebel…'"
"It is disappointing that any law enforcement official would speak under a clause of anonymity and reveal a suspect and describe a link which has not been investigated fully. Doing so undermines an active investigation and can have a negative impact on any future prosecution. Cases are not tried in the courtroom on the basis of assumptions, but rather require evidence beyond a reasonable doubt which links a suspect to the crime. The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office has been and will continue to be the lead agency in this investigation; as such, any information released by our Office can be depended upon as accurate and reliable."
"The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office has been in contact with authorities in Texas since the time they were involved in a pursuit and officer involved shooting earlier today. We began a high level of information exchange and have since sent some of our investigators to Texas to meet with the authorities there and get a better sense on whether or not the suspect from Texas is linked to the Clements shooting."
"The process our investigators will engage in will be multi-faceted and likely involve the inspection of any items of evidence in Texas which may be relevant to our case. These efforts take time and could involve the need for analysis from a crime laboratory before any confirmation of a link could be described."
"We will be diligent in releasing information which does not jeopardize the investigation as soon as it becomes available," the El Paso County Sheriff's release received at 7:30 p.m. Thursday said.
"We were very fortunate none of the officers were injured," according to Walker.
According to other reports, however, the deputy who originally tried to stop the black Caddilac, was hit three times by gunfire, but fortunately had a protective vest, and was being treated for injuries.
Colorado law enforcement officials are headed to Texas to investigate the connection with the killing of Clements and others, Walker said.
The Colorado Department of Corrections director was shot and killed at his home near Monument, Tuesday night.
Here in Colorado, El Paso County Sheriff's Lt. Jeff Kramer said Tom Clements was shot at around 8.30pm on Tuesday night when he answered his front door.
A family member called the emergency services to report the shooting.
Officers then found the 58-year-old dead in his home.
Search dogs were brought in to search a surrounding wooded area, while police went house-to-house trying to find out what neighbours knew about the shooting.
A report from the El Paso County Sheriffs Department had the following info on Wednesday morning:
"Approximately 8:47 p.m., the El Paso County Sheriff's Office received a 9-1-1 call from a resident in the 17400 block of Colonial Park Drive reporting a shooting at the residence. Deputies arrived at the residence to find an adult male deceased; the male was identified as Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, Tom Clements."
According to the release, "Detectives from the Sheriff's Office are working diligently to determine what occurred and who perpetrated the crime. We are sensitive to the high profile position in which Mr. Clements served and the fact there could be people who would target him based on his position. However, we remain open minded to all investigative possibilities and continue to work all available clues and sources of information."
The release says there is no suspect identified in this case, but a vehicle of interest has been identified. The vehicle was seen by a local resident near the Clements' home approximately 15 minutes prior to the first 9-1-1 call. The vehicle was running but unoccupied. The vehicle was gone a few minutes later but was observed a short time later traveling west on Higby Road, turning south on Jackson Creek Parkway.
It is described as "a late model, 2-door, "boxy" style, similar to a 90's model Lincoln. It's shiny and black or dark in color. When the vehicle was seen on Higby Road, it had one occupant but no description of the occupant is available."
Additionally, law enforcement officials said they wanted to speak with a woman who was speed walking in that area on Tuesday night. The woman described as wearing light pants, a dark windbreaker and perhaps a hat. They think she may have seen the suspect.
"The potential witness described has not made contact with the Office and we are asking the unidentified woman contact the Sheriff’s Office at 719-390-5555," says a release from the Shieriff's Office.
Agencies assisting in this investigation include the Colorado Department of Corrections, Colorado Bureau of Investigations, 4th Judicial District Attorney's Office, Attorney General's Office, Federal Bureau of Investigations, Monument Police Department and Palmer Lake Police Department.
Anyone with information regarding this vehicle or crime is encouraged to call the Sheriff's Office at 719-390-5555.
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper appointed Tom Clements in 2011.
"I can hardly believe it, let alone write words to describe it," he said in a statement to corrections department staff early on Wednesday.
"As your Executive Director, he helped change and improve DOC in two years more than most people could do in eight years. He was unfailingly kind and thoughtful, and sought the "good" in any situation," he added.
He is survived by his wife, Lisa, their two daughters.
The family of Tom Clements released this statement on Wednesday:
“We are thankful for the overwhelming support and concern that we have received in the wake of Tom’s death. Our family has lost a devoted husband and a beloved father. There are no words at this time to describe our grief and loss. We thank our friends and those praying for us here and across the nation. Your well-wishes and prayers bring us strength. We appreciate your continued respect for our privacy during this terrible loss.”
Flags will fly at half-mast at all public buildings statewide until the day after his funeral.
A public memorial service for Tom Clements is set for Monday morning in Colorado Springs at 10 a.m. at New Life Church, 11025 Voyager Parkway, Colorado Springs. A private service has also been schedule by the family.