Colorado officials would not confirm Ebel’s gang ties or say whether they had anything to do with the death of prisons director Tom Clements. But they locked down prisons Friday for the second time since Clements’ slaying without giving a reason, and said state troopers are providing extra security for Colorado government officials.
“We are at a heightened alert,” said Steve Johnson of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation at a Friday news conference.
Denver police said they were “confident” Ebel was involved in the death of Nathan Leon, 27, the pizza man whose body was found Sunday.
They’ve been less forthcoming about his link to Clements’ death, aside from saying the car Ebel was driving during the shootout in Texas is similar to one seen at Clements’ home the night of the shooting.
Ebel fired at Texas authorities who tried to stop him Thursday. The .9 mm Hornady casings found after the Texas shootout match those found at Clement’s house, Texas Ranger Anthony Bradford wrote in the application for a search warrant.
Authorities said they were running ballistics tests to see if they could conclusively link the gun Ebel used in Texas with the one that killed Clements.
The FBI and local officials were also beginning to examine another case that appears similar to the Clements killing — the Jan. 31 slaying of a prosecutor in Kaufman — about 100 miles from where Ebel crashed and got into the shootout. Mark Hasse was gunned down as he walked across a parking lot to the courthouse.
Authorities have investigated whether Hasse’s death could be linked to a white supremacist gang. On Friday they said they will see if there is any connection to Clements’ murder.
“This is part of routine investigative work when two crimes occur under somewhat similar circumstances,” Kaufman Police Chief Chris Aulbaugh said in a statement on the look at any links with the Clements case.
Ebel’s tie to Clements’ killing comes from the car he drove — a black Cadillac with mismatched Colorado plates that fit the description of a vehicle spotted outside Clements’ home just before the prison chief answered his front door and was shot to death.
Texas authorities spotted the car Thursday and gave chase after Ebel shot and wounded a deputy. They fatally shot him after he crashed into a semi and opened fire on his pursuers.
The killing of Clements, 58, shocked his quiet neighborhood in Monument, a town of rolling hills north of Colorado Springs, for its brutality: He answered the door of his home Tuesday evening and was gunned down. Authorities wouldn’t say if they thought the attack was related to his job, and all Clements’ recent public activities and cases were scrutinized.