COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Colorado's governor announced a sweeping review of the state's prison and parole operations on Thursday as more evidence piled up showing how a white supremacist gang member slipped through the cracks in the criminal justice system to become a suspect in the killing of the state's prisons chief.
Evan Ebel was released from prison four years early due to a clerical error, and violated his parole terms five days before the death of Department of Corrections Director Tom Clements.
Officials said the state will now audit inmates' legal cases to ensure they are serving the correct amount of time. They also will ask the National Institute of Corrections to review the state's parole system, which is struggling under large caseloads.
The announcement came as authorities said they were looking for two other members of Evan Ebel's white supremacist prison gang in the first official word that the 211 Crew might be involved. Authorities said the two men were not suspects but "persons of interest" in Clements' death.
Investigators are trying to determine whether Clements' killing was an isolated attack or done at the direction of top members of the 211 Crew.
It was amid that backdrop that state officials announced the audit at a news conference here, just south of the forested neighborhood where Clements was shot to death when he answered the front door of his house the night of March 19.
Five days earlier, parole records show, Ebel slipped his ankle bracelet, then stopped his required daily reports into the state parole system. Police believe he also had been involved with the killing of a pizza delivery man two days before. The state did not issue a warrant for his arrest on parole violations until March 20. Ebel died after a March 21 shootout with Texas authorities.
At the news conference, the head of Colorado's parole system, Tim Hand, said his officers struggle to keep up with their caseloads.
"We're releasing approximately 800 parolees out of our prison system every month. Every month," Hand said. "So if we had the resources to have more contact and interactions with the populations, I think we would have better results."
Ebel was sentenced to a combined eight years in prison for a series of assault and menacing convictions in 2005. He was convicted of assaulting a prison guard in 2008, but a clerical error led his new four-year term to be recorded as running simultaneously to his other sentences, rather than starting when they finished. As a result, he was released Jan. 28 — four years early.
"The Department of Corrections will prioritize the review of cases with the greatest level of risk, going back 10 years, and reviewing the required consecutive sentencing," Gov. John Hickenlooper said in a statement. "The Department of Corrections will work with the attorney general's office on any issues that may need further action."
Meanwhile, authorities launched a multistate manhunt for the two other 211 gang members.
El Paso County sheriff's Lt. Jeff Kramer said the names of James Lohr, 47, and Thomas Guolee, 31, surfaced during the investigation. He wouldn't elaborate.
Authorities say the two Colorado Springs men have been associated with Ebel in the past. Both are wanted on warrants unrelated to Clements' death, and authorities believe they are armed and dangerous.
Ebel is the only suspect that investigators have named in Clements' killing, but they haven't given a motive. They have said they're looking into his connection to the gang he joined while in prison, and whether that was linked to the attack.