Investigators don't know if the shooting death of top warden Tom Clements was work-related but are urging caution. Attacks on senior law enforcement officials in the US are on the rise.
Colorado authorities are following numerous leads but have not identified a suspect in the shooting of Tom Clements, the executive director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, officials said Wednesday.
Mr. Clements, known for his advocacy of prison reform, died Tuesday night after he was shot while answering the door of his Monument, Colo., home. He came to Colorado in 2011 after working 30 years in the Missouri prison system. Investigators are not ruling out any motives in the attack, including whether it was work-related.
“Because of the fact Mr. Clements served in the position he did, we’re sensitive to the fact there could be any number of people who have a motive,” said Lt. Jeff Kramer, a spokesman for the El Paso County Sheriff’s office, at a news conference Wednesday.
State law enforcement agencies are increasing security at the state Capitol and adding staff to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s security detail, in case the killer intended to target public officials.
“We have a responsibility to protect the governor and his family,” Capt. Jeff Goodwin, spokesman for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, told The Denver Post. “Other people at the Capitol benefit from that increased security, as well.”
Clements is the second known state prisons chief to be killed in office, the Associated Press reported. The other incident occurred in 1989 when Michael Francke, director of the Oregon corrections department, was killed during a car burglary. The suspect, a former Oregon prison inmate, was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison in 1991.
There is no central database of attacks on legal officials and senior law enforcement executives like Clements, but Glenn McGovern, an investigator with the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office in California, tracks such incidents worldwide.
The number of similar attacks on officials is small, though they have been increasing in the US in recent years, Mr. McGovern told the Associated Press.
In the past three years, there have been at least 35 similar incidents – as many as occurred during the entire previous decade. Searching media accounts and court cases back to 1950, he has documented 133 cases including 41 killings of judges, prosecutors, and other justice and top police officials.