Ballistics confirm same handgun used in Texas, Colorado shootings

Posted Monday, Mar. 25, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Ballistics tests released Monday have confirmed the handgun used by Evan Spencer Ebel in the shootout Thursday with authorities in Decatur was the same one that killed the head of a Colorado Department of Corrections.

The El Paso County Sheriff's Office in Colorado issued a news release Monday that said the Colorado Springs Metro Crime Lab's analysis of shell casings recovered in Texas were also used in the killing of Tom Clements, executive director of the Colorado Department of Corrections.

"The analysis done by ballistics experts has concluded the gun used by Evan Ebel in Texas was the same weapon used in the shooting death of Tom Clements," the El Paso Sheriff's Department said in statement. "The confirmation goes well beyond acknowledging the same caliber and brand of ammunition being used, but rather is based on unique, and often microscopic markings left on the casings at both scenes."

Clements was shot March 13 when he answered the front door of his home in Monument, Colo., but investigators have still not established a motive.

"Investigators are actively pursuing all pieces of information and angles to determine whether Ebel acted alone in the shooting of Tom Clements or if others were involved," the statement said. "There are no answers at this time surrounding motive and gaining these answers could be a lengthy process for investigators."

On Thursday Ebel, 28, shot Montague County Sheriff's Deputy James Boyd three times during a traffic stop along U.S. 287 near Bowie, striking him twice in the chest and grazing his head with another bullet. Boyd is hospitalized at Texas Health Harris Hospital Fort Worth.

Montague County Sheriff Paul Cunningham said Monday that Boyd, 27, "is up and moving around and talking" but still faces a lengthy recovery. He will be transferred to a rehab facility when he is released from the hospital. Investigators have reviewed dash-cam video of the traffic stop but have still not questioned Boyd in detail about the shooting.

"We haven't pushed that yet," Cunningham said.

Ebel was gunned down in a shootout in Decatur and was pronounced dead later Thursday at a Fort Worth hospital.

Almost immediately, he emerged as a suspect in the shooting of Colorado's prison chief and a Denver pizza deliveryman, and questions arose about what led Ebel to drive from Colorado to Texas.

Some of that speculation has even included looking at possible links to the execution-style killing of Kaufman County Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse, who was shot while walking from the parking lot to the courthouse on Jan. 31.

On Friday, Kaufman County authorities said the Dallas and Denver offices of the FBI were comparing the slaying of Clements in Colorado to Hasse's killing.

After several days of looking at the evidence, Wise County Sheriff David Walker said Monday that authorities are no closer to finding any Texas ties for Ebel.

"Honestly, he may have just been fleeing," Walker said.

Ebel led authorities on a high-speed chase along U.S. 287 until the 1991 Cadillac he was driving was struck by a rock hauler in Decatur.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms performed ballistics tests on Ebel's handgun Friday, Walker said, and shipped evidence to Colorado.

A search warrant affidavit showed that the 9 mm Smith & Wesson handgun used in the shootout was the same caliber as the one used in the shooting of Clements.

"It's a piece of the puzzle," Walker said.

Ebel's connections to Texas -- if there are any -- remain a mystery.

Walker said his office has talked to the Texas Rangers leading the investigation into Hasse's death but have found nothing so far.

"There is some evidence in the car that doesn't lead to Texas," said Walker. He declined to give further details about what was found.

Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland said he believes it's too early in the investigation to link or rule out Ebel in Hasse's shooting.

"This is not one of those things that's going to get solved over a weekend, because whoever did this is smarter than the average bear," McLelland said.

McLelland said Hasse's shooting has forced staff members to look over their shoulders as they go about their day.

"We don't know what the individual or individuals' intentions were," McLelland said. "It's been a body blow to this office."

Colorado officials have said Ebel was a member of the 211s, a white supremacist prison gang in Colorado. Officials are trying to determine whether the 211 gang was involved in Clements' killing.

Ebel is also a suspect in the March 17 slaying of Denver pizza deliveryman Nathan Leon. A Domino's pizza carrier and a Domino's shirt or jacket were found in the trunk of the Cadillac.

Authorities have speculated that Ebel may have posed as a deliveryman to get Clements to answer the door of his home in Monument, Colo.

Bill Hanna, (817) 390-7698

Twitter: @fwhanna

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