Report: Colorado prison chief's killing was gang hit

AP News
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Posted: May 27, 2016 8:09 PM

DENVER (AP) — Newly released documents show authorities believe the killing of Colorado's prisons chief was ordered by members of a white supremacist prison gang — the clearest indication yet that more than one person was involved in the slaying.

An investigative report obtained by The Denver Post alleges the leader of the 211 Crew in Colorado Springs ordered the killing of Tom Clements, and some of the gang's members helped alleged gunman Evan Ebel flee to Texas, where he died in a shootout with authorities. Investigators say Ebel, who had been recently paroled, shot Clements when he answered his front door in Monument on March 19, 2013.

Texas Ranger James Holland, who submitted the 77-page report in May 2013, wrote what Colorado officials still have not acknowledged — "The murder of the Colorado Department of Corrections director was ordered by hierarchy of the 211 prison crew."

Authorities in Colorado have said Ebel, 28, was the only suspect.

James "Jimbo" Lohr, the gang's ranking leader in Colorado Springs, told a fellow gang member and confidential informant that he ordered Ebel to assassinate Clements, according to Holland's report. The informant told investigators that Ebel killed Clements to try to redeem himself after a falling out with Ben Davis, the founder of the Colorado prison gang.

The informant, identified as a 211 Crew member on parole in Texas, told investigators that Ebel had been demoted from "soldier" to "prospect," and that Ebel told him while both were still behind bars that he would have to do some "wild (expletive)" for Davis on the outside to redeem himself.

The informant also claimed that Lohr ordered him to help Ebel flee after Clements' murder. The report identifies a dozen suspects or people of interest who are thought to have helped Ebel along the way. It also details a series of phone calls between various 211 Crew members in the months after Ebel's release from prison, either to or from him or made on his behalf.

Investigators say they also found a hit list of other Colorado officials in a car used by Ebel when he allegedly shot and killed Nathan Leon, a Denver computer technician and pizza delivery driver, two days before Clements was killed.

Ebel was believed to have used Leon's work uniform as a disguise when he knocked on Clements' door.

The Clements case has been mired in conflict between prosecutors and an El Paso County Sheriff's Office distracted by sexual scandals and possible criminal wrongdoing, according to The Post

The sheriff at the time of Clements' killing, Terry Maketa, was indicted Wednesday by a grand jury on various corruption charges. He stepped down in late 2014 after he was accused of sexual impropriety, discrimination, creating a hostile work environment and removing almost all oversight of the department's annual budget.

Meanwhile, the district attorney's office has been criticized for pulling its most experienced homicide prosecutor from the Clements case.

Former commander Juan San Agustin, who led the department's investigation into the Clements killing for 19 months before he resigned in 2014, has criticized the decision by the current sheriff to reduce the number of investigators on the case to just one deputy.

Attempts to reach Maketa and the Texas Department of Public Safety for comment about Holland's report were unsuccessful Friday.