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Was there a prison gang connection to murder of Colorado prisons chief?

Colorado parolee Evan Ebel, who died Friday after a shootout with police in Texas, may have been connected to the shooting death of Colorado prisons chief Tom Clements. As the member of a 'particularly vicious' prison gang, Ebel may have been ordered to kill Clements.

Evan Spencer Ebel is shown in this undated Colorado Department of Corrections booking photo. Ebel died Friday but authorities say he is a suspect in the slaying of Tom Clements, the head of Colorado's prison system.

Colorado Department of Corrections/REUTERS

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Law enforcement officials are zeroing in on the member of a prison gang as a suspect in the killing of Colorado prisons chief Tom Clements.

He has been identified by several news sources as 28-year-old Evan Ebel, who had been on life-support in Texas after a high-speed chase and shootout with police there. Mr. Ebel died Friday.

Ebel had been in and out of prison in Colorado over the past decade for various offenses, including assaulting a prison guard in 2008. His list of nine felonies over a four-year period includes aggravated robbery, assault, and menacing. Authorities say he was a member of the “211 Crew,” also known as the Aryan Alliance. Ebel had been free on parole since February.

“There is a thick stack of indictments against gang members for attempted murder, bribing or tampering with witnesses, solicitation to commit murder, and criminal impersonation,” reports 9News, an NBC affiliate in Denver. “One of the most famous members of the group was Jeremiah Barnum. He was an accessory to the murder of an African immigrant, Oumar Dia, in 1997. Just a year ago, Barnum died when Englewood Police shot and killed him during a confrontation.”

Writing on his Hatewatch blog Friday, Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in Montgomery, Ala., describes the gang as “a particularly vicious regional white supremacist prison gang whose size has been estimated at somewhere between several hundred and a thousand members, all in Colorado.” Most of the gang’s members are prison inmates.

“A major, four-year racketeering investigation of the group culminated in 2007 with the arrests of 32 gang members and associates,” Mr. Potok writes. “One of them was Benjamin Davis, who started the gang in 1995, and was ultimately convicted of racketeering, assault, and conspiracy and sentenced to 108 years in prison.”

“Officials have said that the 211 Crew was started by Davis initially after attacks by black inmates on white prisoners, but quickly morphed into a major criminal enterprise,” Potok writes. “Inmates seeking to join were reportedly required to attack someone selected by gang ‘shot callers,’ and the only way out is to die.”


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