DECATUR, Texas (AP) — A man who may be linked to the slaying of Colorado's state prison chief and a pizza delivery man led authorities in Texas on a harrowing, 100-mph car chase Thursday that ended after he crashed into a semi and then opened fire before being shot down by his pursuers, authorities said.
The Denver Post reported that the man is 28-year-old Evan Spencer Ebel. A federal law enforcement official confirmed that identity to The Associated Press. The official was not authorized to speak publicly about the case and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Legal records show Ebel 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 Tom Clements' death.
Ebel died Thursday at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth.
The possible link to the Tuesday night slaying of Colorado prison director Tom Clements is tentative but intriguing enough to put Colorado investigators on a plane to Texas. The black Cadillac Ebel drove, with Colorado license plates, matches the description of a car spotted outside Clements' home just before the Department of Corrections chief was fatally shot while answering his front door.
ABC News confirmed authorities are also investigating if the suspect was involved in the killing of a Denver Domino’s pizza driver. Authorities told Clayton Sandell of ABC News evidence found Thursday in Ebel's car, including a Domino's pizza jacket, may link the suspect to the unsolved murder of Nathan Leon, 27.
Leon’s body was found Sunday in a ditch in Golden, Colorado. A father of three, Leon was shot multiple times.
"We don't know yet exactly whether this is the guy," Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper told reporters Thursday afternoon. "There's some indication. I hope it is."
A deputy in Montague County, Texas, tried to pull the Cadillac over at about 11 a.m. Thursday on a routine traffic stop, though officials wouldn't elaborate on the reason.
Ebel shot Montague County Sheriff's Deputy James Boyd three times. He then fled south before crashing into a semi as he tried to elude his pursuers.
The deputy was transferred to a North Texas hospital in serious condition with non-life-threatening injuries. Boyd was struck twice in the bullet-proof vest and shot shot grazed his head.
The man shot at Decatur Police Chief Rex Hoskins four times as the chief tried to set up a road block to halt him. The man left his car after it crashed and opened fire on the authorities around him, Hoskins said.
"He wasn't planning on being taken alive," Hoskins said. In a brief interview, he added that the man had no identification on him.
El Paso County, Colo., sheriff's investigators have been looking for a dark, late-model car, possibly a Lincoln or a Cadillac, that a neighbor spotted near Clements' home around the time of the shooting. Lt. Jeff Kramer refused to say what other clues may have been found after Clements' neighborhood was canvassed by officers.
Clements, 58, was killed as he answered the door to his home Tuesday night in Monument, a town of rolling hills and alpine trees north of Colorado Springs. His death stunned law enforcement colleagues in Colorado and Missouri, where he spent most of his career as a highly respected corrections official.
Police haven't said if they think his death was linked to his job.
Denver's KMGH-TV reported Thursday that Clements may have put a bicycle up for sale for $1,200 on Craigslist. Kramer told the station, "I can't speak to the efforts behind this tip, or the level we are giving it."
In recent weeks, Clements had requested chemicals to plan for the execution of a convict on Colorado's death row and denied a Saudi national's request to serve out the remainder of a sentence in his home country. Officials refused to say whether they were looking at those actions as possible motives.
Clements came to Colorado in 2011 after working three decades in the Missouri prison system. Missouri Department of Corrections spokeswoman Mandi Steele said Thursday the department was ready to help in the probe if asked.
"Tom regularly commented that corrections is inherently a dangerous business, and that's all that I'll say," said Alison Morgan, a Colorado corrections spokeswoman who worked closely with Clements.
Officials in positions like Clements' get a deluge of threats, according to people who monitor their safety. But it can be hard sorting out which ones could lead to violence. A U.S. Department of Justice study found that federal prosecutors and judges received 5,250 threats between 2003 and 2008, but there were only three attacks during that time period.
The last public official killed in Colorado in the past 10 years was Sean May, a prosecutor in suburban Denver. An assailant killed May as he arrived home from work. Investigators examined May's court cases, but the case remains unsolved.
Riccardi reported from Denver. Associated Press writers P. Solomon Banda, Colleen Slevin in Denver and Jordan Shapiro in Jefferson City, Mo., contributed to this report.