2 with gang ties sought in CO prison chief death
DENVER (AP) — Authorities investigating the death of Colorado’s prisons chief told law enforcement officers Wednesday to be on the lookout for two known associates of a white supremacist prison gang.
James Lohr, 47, and Thomas Guolee, 31, aren’t being called suspects in the death of Colorado Department of Corrections chief Tom Clements, but their names have surfaced during the investigation, El Paso County sheriff’s Lt. Jeff Kramer said. He wouldn’t elaborate.
An officer safety bulletin regarding the two was sent out Wednesday. Kramer said Lohr and Guolee are known associates of the 211 Crew. That’s the same gang whose members included Evan Ebel, who is a suspect in the death of Clements on March 19 and of Nathan Leon, a pizza deliveryman, two days earlier.
Ebel was killed in a shootout with Texas authorities after the deaths. Investigators have said the gun Ebel used in the shootout was also used to kill Clements when the prisons chief answered the front door of his home.
Ebel is the only suspect that investigators have named in Clements’ death, 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 connected to the attack.
“Investigators are looking at a lot of different possibilities. We are not stepping out and saying it’s a hit or it’s not a hit. We’re looking at all possible motives,” Kramer said Wendesday.
Sheriff’s investigators said they don’t know the whereabouts of Lohr and Guolee or if they are together, but Kramer said it’s possible one or both of them could be headed to Nevada or Texas.
Both are wanted on warrants unrelated to Clements’ death, and authorities believe they are armed and dangerous.
Guolee is a parolee who served time for intimidating a witness and giving a pawnbroker false information, among other charges, court records show. Lohr was being sought on warrants out of Las Animas County for a bail violation and a violation of a protection order, according to court records.
The 211 gang is one of the most vicious white supremacist groups operating in U.S. prisons, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremist groups. It was founded in 1995 to protect white prisoners from attacks and operates only in Colorado, according to the center.
Ebel joined the 211 Crew after he entered prison in 2005 for a string of assault and menacing charges that combined for an eight-year sentence. He was supposed to spend an extra four years in prison for punching a prison officer in the face in 2006, but a clerical error led that sentence to be recorded as one to be served simultaneously with his previous sentences.
He was released on parole Jan. 28.
Records show that the vendor operating the electronic monitoring bracelet that Ebel wore noted a “tamper alert” March 14. Corrections officials left a message for Ebel telling him to report in two days and have the bracelet repaired, records show.
The next day, for the first time since his release, Ebel did not call in for his daily phone check-in.
On March 16, he missed his appointment to repair the bracelet. Only on the following day do the records show that a note was made in the corrections system that he failed to show up.
By then, Leon, a father of three, was shot and killed after answering a call for a pizza at a Denver truck stop.
On March 18, parole officers contacted Ebel’s father, who said he was concerned his son had fled and gave them permission to search Evan Ebel’s apartment. The next afternoon, two parole officers concluded he had fled.
Hours later, Clements answered his doorbell and was fatally shot.
The next morning, still unaware of a connection with the most recent slaying, the state issued a warrant for Ebel’s arrest on parole violations.
A sheriff’s deputy in rural Texas pulled Ebel over March 21, but he fled. Ebel was killed in the shootout that followed.
Clements, born in St. Louis, worked for 31 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections, both in prison and as a parole officer, before he joined the Colorado Department of Corrections in 2011.
Associated Press writers P. Solomon Banda and Nicholas Riccardi contributed to this report.