Ben Russell, NBC 5 News
Items found in the car of Evan Spencer Ebel, a Colorado parolee who was killed during a shootout with deputies in North Texas, could tie him to two Colorado slayings.
Shell casings from a North Texas shootout with a white supremacist Colorado parolee are the same make and caliber as those found at the home of Colorado's prison chief after he was killed, according to legal papers.
It's the closest link yet between Evan Spencer Ebel -- who died in the shootout following a harrowing, 100-mph chase in Wise County -- and the slaying of Tom Clements, who was shot and killed when he opened his door Tuesday evening.
Authorities also say they found a Domino's pizza bag and a jacket or shirt in the trunk of the car Ebel was driving when North Texas deputies tried to pull him over -- a link to another slaying, that of a Denver pizza deliveryman whose body was found Sunday.
Before the high-speed pursuit began, Ebel, 28, shot Montague County Sheriff's Deputy James Boyd during a traffic stop.
Boyd is recovering from his wounds at a Fort Worth hospital. He was sitting up in his hospital bed and talking with family members Friday, Montague County Sheriff Paul Cunningham said.
As investigators began to look into Ebel's background Thursday afternoon, they quickly began to make a connection between his black Cadillac with Colorado license plates and the description of a car spotted outside Clements' home in Monument, Colo., around the time of his killing. Investigators also began working to determine if there Ebel was connected to the shooting death of Nathan Leon, a Domino's pizza delivery driver who killed in Denver on Sunday.
Investigators from a number of Colorado and Texas law enforcement agencies said in a news conference Friday morning that any connection to crimes in Colorado are speculative and are being investigated.
The car and Ebel's identity are the only connection to Colorado at this time, officials said.
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.
The .9 mm Hornady casings found after the North 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.
Investigators said Friday that they have not determined why Ebel was in Texas.
ME Rules Ebel Died of Gunshot Wound to Head
Ebel was gravely wounded in a clash with North Texas deputies and state troopers Thursday.
Law enforcement officials said Ebel took several shots at other officers while trying to elude capture. In the final moments of the chase, he crashed into an 18-wheel gravel hauler, only to emerge from his vehicle and continue to indiscriminately fire at anyone with a badge, investigators said.
They returned fire, striking Ebel an unknown number of times.
Dashboard-camera video from the law enforcement vehicles involved in the chase would not be released until they have all been reviewed, investigators said.
Authorities said on Thursday afternoon that Ebel was on life support for potential organ harvesting and was not expected to survive. On Friday, it was announced Ebel had been pronounced dead at 5:20 p.m. Thursday.
The Tarrant County medical examiner conducted an autopsy Friday morning. Toxicology results will not be available for several days, but the medical examiner said Ebel died of a single, distant-range gunshot wound to the mid-forehead.
Ebel Reportedly Member of Whie Supremacist Prison Gang
Ebel was a member of a white supremacist prison gang called the 211s, a federal law enforcement official told The Associated Press. The official was not authorized to speak publicly about the case and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.
The Denver Post also reported the connection.
Colorado officials would not confirm Ebel's gang ties, and investigators from North Texas and Colorado said his criminal history and associations were still being investigated.
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.
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. Kaufman County Assistant District Attorney 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.
The Kaufman County Sheriff's Department issued a statement Friday, saying:
"The Dallas and Denver offices of the Federal Bureau of Investigation are comparing the homicides of Mark Hasse and Tom Clements to determine if there is any evidence linking the two crimes. This is part of routine investigative work when two crimes occur under somewhat similar circumstances. If any link is found, or a possible link is disproven, that information will be released at the appropriate time."
Ebel is not on the radar of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremist groups, but the center rates the 211s 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.
Colo. Governor a Friend of Ebel's Father
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper says he's a close friend of Ebel's father.
The Denver Post reported Friday that Hickenlooper said he and attorney Jack Ebel worked for the same oil company when Hickenlooper was a geologist.
Evan Ebel had been in prison off and on beginning in 2003, including time in solitary.
Hickenlooper said that, despite his friendship with Ebel's father, he had nothing to do with Ebel's release.
"A, Jack Ebel would never ask me. B, I would never do it. And I would never," he said. "For a friend, I would not ask on his behalf without telling Jack. I never discussed it with anybody. Tom Clements had never heard of Evan Ebel, didn't know he existed or know that I knew somebody named Evan Ebel."
Evan Ebel was released from prison on Jan. 28 on mandatory parole after serving his full sentence, the Denver Post reported.
"You know, every killer, the most cold-blooded killer, has a mother and a father. Right? And in many cases those parents didn't abuse them," he said. "They didn't in any way that we can understand or conceive do anything but provide love and support."
The Wise County Sheriff's Office asks anyone who witnessed the chase to contact them and aid the investigation as potential witnesses.
Anyone who wishes to make a financial donation to aid in Boyd's recovery can do so at Legend Bank.
NBC 5's Frank Heinz and Ben Russell and The Associated Press' Angela K. Brown and P. Solomon Banda contributed to this report.