DENVER

Hickenlooper: Tom Clements Slaying Like A 'Nightmare I Couldn't Wake Up From'

03/25/2013 01:43 pm ET

Over the weekend, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper dropped by CNN's "State of the Union" and spoke to Candy Crowley about the slaying of Colorado Department of Corrections head Tom Clements at his home last week as well as his longtime friendship to the Ebel family, whose son, Evan Ebel, is the main suspect in the killing and who was also killed after a shootout and high-speed chase in Texas.

"The whole week, I sort of felt like I was in a nightmare that I couldn't wake up from," Hickenlooper said about the killing of Clements last week and as the dots began to connect between all the various parties involved.

Hickenlooper's friend and colleague Tom Clements was gunned down at his home in Monument, Colo. last Tuesday night when he answered a knock at his door. Then as the investigation unfolded, the police named a suspect in the Clements killing -- Evan Ebel, a 28-year-old white supremacist and ex-convict, who is also the son of longtime friend to Hickenloooper, Jack Ebel.

"All these things kept happening to people that I loved and they didn't seem to be connected in anyway," Hickenlooper said to Crowley. "To me the emotional toll has been much deeper than worrying about security."

Hickenlooper also spoke about his friendship with Jack Ebel and their son Evan who, Hickenlooper says, had a "bad streak, a streak of cruelty and anger."

"I've known Evan's father for more than 30 years," Hickenlooper said. "When I first came out as a geologist to work in Colorado in 1981, he and I worked at the same company, we've always stayed friends. He's one of the hardest working, most honorable, honest people I've ever known. Just a wonderful person who from the beginning his son just seemed to have this bad streak, a streak of cruelty and anger. And yet they did everything they could, they worked with Evan again and again but to no avail. He had a bad, bad streak."

The Colorado governor also briefly described his interactions with Tom Clements wife Lisa and Ebel's father Jack after the news had broke that the police had named his son as a suspect in the slaying.

"I talked to [Jack] the night when we found out that all the signs seemed to point to Evan," Hickenlooper told Crowley. "I gave him a call and he already knew. He was just distraught. He was more upset than I've ever seen him. Tom Clements wife -- who is one of the most wonderful people, they were just a remarkable couple -- I spent a couple of hours with her on Wednesday and [she was] deeply distraught. And Tom Clements, one of the greatest people I've ever worked with -- kind of the elder statesman of all of our cabinet -- but to have two people I know so well and love so deeply to be connected by this, it's just inexplicable."

The Associated Press gave more detail about suspect Evan Ebel in a recent report:

Legal records show he was convicted of several crimes in Colorado dating back to 2003, including assaulting a prison guard in 2008. He apparently was paroled, but Colorado Department of Corrections spokeswoman Alison Morgan said she could not release information on prisoners because of the ongoing investigation into Clements' death.

Scott Robinson, a criminal defense attorney and media legal analyst, represented Ebel in 2003 and 2004. He said Ebel had been sentenced to a halfway house for a robbery charge in 2003 before he was accused in two additional robbery cases the following year that garnered prison sentences of three and eight years.

"I thought he was a young man who was redeemable, otherwise I wouldn't have taken the case," Robinson said, saying he didn't recall the details of the case.

Robinson said he knew Ebel before he got in trouble. He said Ebel was raised by a single father and had a younger sister who died in a car accident years ago.

Vicky Bankey said Ebel was in his teens when she lived across from him in suburban Denver until his father moved a couple of years ago. She remembers seeing Ebel once jump off the roof of his house. "He was a handful. I'd see him do some pretty crazy things," she said.

"He had a hair-trigger temper as a kid. But his dad was so nice," Bankey said.

Ebel is not on the radar of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremist groups, but the center rates the gang as one of the most vicious white supremacist groups operating in the nation's prisons, comparable to the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas. Founded in 1995 to protect white prisoners from attacks, it operates only in Colorado and has anywhere from between a couple hundred to 1,000 members, senior fellow Mark Potok said Friday.
The gang has grown into a sophisticated criminal enterprise where members are assigned military titles like "general" and extort money from fellow prisoners, regardless of race. Released members are expected to make money to support those still in prison, Potok said. He said members have to attack someone to get in and can only get out by dying.

"It's blood in and blood out," he said.

In 2005, 32 members were indicted for racketeering and the gang's founder, Benjamin Davis, was sentenced to over 100 years in prison.

Clements was shot dead in his home in Monument after he answered a knock at his front door around 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday night. 7News reported that the interaction at the doorway only lasted minutes and there may have been a struggle. Police have said that it appears as if Clements was targeted in the slaying.

Clements is survived by his wife, Lisa, and two daughters, Rachel and Sara.

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