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Shell casings from Texas gunfight match those at Colorado slaying

A man pursued by Texas authorities dies after deputies critically wound him. His car is being searched for evidence linking him to the death of Colorado's prisons chief.

March 22, 2013|By Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Jenny Deam, Los Angeles Times
  • A Colorado Department of Corrections photo shows Evan Spencer Ebel, who died after being critically wounded by Texas deputies. Authorities are searching for evidence to link him to two slayings in Colorado.
A Colorado Department of Corrections photo shows Evan Spencer Ebel, who… (Uncredited, AP )

Investigators have matched the brand and caliber of shell casings from a Colorado parolee's gunfight with north Texas authorities to those found at the home of Colorado's prisons chief, who was killed earlier this week.

Evan Spencer Ebel, 28, died after he was critically wounded by deputies at the end of a high-speed chase Thursday in Texas.

Hornady 9-millimeter casings were found at the Texas scene, the same type found at the home of Colorado prisons chief Tom Clements, according to an application for a warrant to search the car filed by officials in Wise County, Texas. Clements, 58, was shot on Tuesday when he answered the front door of his home north of Colorado Springs.

Colorado investigators on Friday searched the car Ebel drove for evidence that might link him to Clements' killing. The black Cadillac had mismatched Colorado license plates and fit the description of a car spotted outside Clements' home at the time of the shooting.

Colorado officials are also investigating Ebel's possible connection to the Sunday killing of Nathan Leon, a Denver pizza deliveryman. At the Texas crime scene, authorities could see a Domino's pizza bag and a Domino's jacket or shirt in the Cadillac's trunk, according to the warrant application.

Thursday's chase started when a sheriff's deputy in Montague County conducting drug stops tried to pull Ebel over at about 11 a.m. west of Fort Worth. Ebel allegedly opened fire, wounding Deputy James Boyd, who was hospitalized and in good condition Friday, officials said.

About 60 miles west of Dallas, Ebel crashed into an 18-wheeler, got out and traded gunfire with law enforcement using a 9-millimeter handgun, according to the search warrant application. Wise County Sheriff David Walker said the car was the primary connection investigators had made between Ebel and the Colorado crimes.

"We have no idea at this time why he was in Texas. We're hoping with the forensic review of his vehicle and the search of his vehicle we'll learn more," Walker said, adding that for Colorado authorities, "That hopefully will help them determine, yes or no, if this is related to any of their crimes."

Walker said Ebel had a "lengthy criminal history" in Colorado that dates to 2003, according to court records, including assaulting a prison guard in 2008. Prison records show Ebel was eligible for parole April 13; a Colorado prisons spokeswoman declined to release specifics, citing the ongoing investigation.

Scott Robinson, a Denver lawyer, represented Ebel after his arrest in 2003 for menacing and robbery. He said Ebel, then 18, lived in an upscale neighborhood in the Denver suburbs and was bright and personable with a good sense of humor. "I thought he was worth helping and I worked like the devil to keep him out of prison," Robinson said. "I had no inkling any of this was possible."

Ebel's possible connections to white supremacist groups were still unclear Friday.

Colorado and Texas officials declined to comment about media reports that Ebel belonged to the 211 Crew, a white supremacist prison gang.

"This is something that's going to have to be looked at down the road," said Steve Johnson, assistant director of the Colorado Bureau of Investigations.

In January, north Texas prosecutor Mark Hasse, involved in a case against members of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, was gunned down outside a courthouse the same day two of the gang's members pleaded guilty to racketeering charges in federal court in Houston. His assailants have not been arrested.

Kaufman, Texas, Police Chief Chris Aulbaugh released a statement Friday saying Dallas and Denver FBI officials were "comparing the homicides of Mark Hasse and Tom Clements to determine if there is any evidence linking the two crimes."

Mark Potok, senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center based in Montgomery, Ala., said the 211 Crew, also known as the Aryan Alliance, was formed in 1995 by a Colorado inmate and now claims several hundred to 1,000 members. The gang, which has no real presence outside of Colorado, has a hierarchical, paramilitary structure, he said, and new members are required to learn a verbal and written code to communicate.

Special correspondent Jenny Deam reported from Denver.

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