Colorado’s prison chief was shot dead Tuesday, a day before the state’s governor signed a hard-won package of gun control measures.
Tom Clements, the executive director of the Department of Corrections, answered his door and was gunned down at home on Tuesday night, according to a 911 emergency call for help.
A “boxy” two-door car that had been spotted Tuesday night in the neighborhood, its engine running but with nobody inside, officials with the El Paso County sheriff’s office said.
Investigators said Wednesday morning that they had no suspect, and that they did not believe robbery was a motive. They believe Clement’s post made him a target since he oversaw more than 20,000 inmates in Colorado’s prisons and the parole system. They suspect the shooting may be tied to the recent decision not to grant a transfer of a Saudi man in a Colorado prison convicted in 2006 on various sex assault charges.
Hickenlooper called the shooting “an act of intimidation” against a man who had tried to reform Colorado’s prisons by reducing the number of prisoners in solitary confinement.
Clements, 58, was remembered as a dedicated public servant who had been wooed from retirement to work in Colorado after a career with Missouri’s Department of Corrections.
Hickenlooper said Clements had been supportive of the gun measures “but not particularly active” during their emotional and contentious path toward passage.
The new laws require background checks for private gun sales in addition to the checks already mandated for purchases at shops and gun shows. They also ban ammunition magazines with more than 15 rounds, a feature that the governor said could turn “killers into killing machines.”
Hickenlooper was joined in the signing of the landmark bill by people who lost loved ones in shootings at Columbine High School in 1999, at an Aurora movie theater in July and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in December.