March 27, 2013

Life Imitates Bad TV

“Life doesn't imitate art, it imitates bad television.” - Woody Allen

I wrote recently about a pizza delivery driver that was murdered. Turn out there's a lot more to it than just a simple robbery, and even ol' Hick is involved at least tangentially.

Tom Clements, the head of the Colorado Department of Corrections, was murdered on March 19th, 2013. This occurred at his home as he answered the door. It also happened just before Hickenlooper signed 3 gun owner control bills into law.

Evan Ebel was killed after a high speed chase and shoot-out down in Texas a few days later by Texas deputies. It's alleged the gun he used (a 9mm Smith & Wesson, using Hornady ammo) was the same that killed Clements. Also a pizza delivery shirt, visor and insulated bag were found in his car, as well as surveillance equipment, bloody clothes, bomb making material and directions to Clements house among other items. A deputy was wounded but not too seriously and is recovering well. .

Evan was incarcerated for carjacking and pistol whipping the victim. He received more time for assaulting a prison guard, and also was in solitary confinement for a few years. It seems that he spent most of his adult life in prison for various violent crimes. There he's alleged to have become a member of a white supremacist prison gang called the 211 crew, which is reported to be influential outside prison as well as inside. A few weeks ago Clements relocated members of the 211 crew to diminish the gang's influence and hamper its communications. Evan was released on mandatory parole in January.

Evan's father, Jack Ebel, is a good friend of Governor Hickenlooper. They met in the 80's when working together at an oil company. Hickenlooper denies any involvement with Evan Ebel, and says he was not even aware of his release until Thursday.

In January prosecutor Mark Hasse of Kaufman County, Texas was killed allegedly by another white supremacist group (Aryan Nation), but now investigators are searching for evidence that Hasse's and Clements' murders may be connected.

With the information I have (which is contained in the links above) I'll speculate:

Evan was released but still had his prison gang ties. They ordered a hit on Clements for disrupting their activities, which Evan was assigned to (or volunteered for). He kidnapped and murdered a pizza delivery driver to steal his shirt and other accoutrements, then masqueraded as a delivery driver a few days later when he murdered Clements at his door, possibly after watching the house and neighborhood for a few days prior. He then fled to Texas, possibly to hook up with other gang members or related gangs (I'm guessing Aryan Nations have some sort of communication with the 211 crew at this point) and was pulled over. While it was just a routine traffic stop (probably a fishing expedition in the War on Some Drugs) Evan thought he was busted, so he shoots the deputy. This leads to a chase that ends in Evan getting shot dead.

That Clements' murder occurred the day that Hickenlooper signed gun owner control bills, or that Hickenlooper knew the family and was close friends with the elder Ebel, is coincidental.

What does seem odd is that the younger Ebel, a convicted violent repeat felon recently paroled, used a gun which has not been sourced. I have no doubts they've traced the firearm and know the last gun store it was sold from, but usually they're mighty quick to announce where the gun came from when used in a crime, and make a big deal out of it to further calls for registration or universal background checks or some other such nonsense.

That no one has mentioned where Evan got the pistol used in at least 2 murders leads me to wonder if it was stolen from his father and this information is being suppressed to spare the family more attention. I could certainly understand; Evan Ebel had a sister who was killed in a car accident when she was 16. Now, however vile his actions have shown him to be, Evan is the 2nd child dead in this family. I've always thought the worst loss a person can suffer is to lose a child, no matter what age or circumstance. Sparing the family further scrutiny, at least temporarily, could be an understandable motivation. That the family is politically connected could also help with the investigators being discreet about some things.

Pretending to be a pizza delivery driver likely wasn't just an act to sneak up on his victim; pizza delivery drivers are so common that they typically go without notice in a neighborhood, so the subterfuge was most likely directed towards any potential witnesses rather than a means to fool Clements, or served both purposes instead of just one.

I presume the surveillance equipment was used to stalk Clements, but it could have been for some future ploy. The bomb making materials (and without specifics that may or may not be accurate) could indicate that another crime was being planned. Or that investigators mistook some items for the makings of a bomb. Again without details it's tricky to say.

I did think it quite dumb for someone that recently murdered a delivery driver to have the clothes and pizza bags in his car days later. But if he was planning another murder perhaps he was planning to use the same methods that worked for him with Clements. Having bloody clothing with him though was just dumb, which is not that surprising as a lot of violent criminals do very illogical things.

Texas could have been a destination, or Evan could have been fleeing through the state. But that another white supremacist group recently killed another public official there is enough to warrant speculation that Evan was trying to hook up with someone.

It's a sad situation. One murdering punk adversely affected at least 2 families. That a gang member sitting behind bars may have started this sequence of events is troubling in numerous ways.

Of course it's simply unpossible that a paroled felon could have acquired a firearm, it being illegal and all. It's also shocking that the Dominos/Pizza Hut/Papa John's defense policy of just giving the robber whatever they want didn't keep the driver safe.

I'm sure more information will be discovered and disclosed in the coming days and weeks. Some advice though; if you didn't order pizza don't open the door. Talk through it. It should go without saying that when answering a door it is always a good idea to be armed, but I'll mention it anyway. And if you happen to work for any company, especially in a position that involves dealing with the public, ignore any company policies about complying with a robber or not being armed.

As an old boss of mine once said, "We have a very strict 'no weapons' policy here, and it'd be a real shame if I had to fire you because you used a gun to save your life". Looking for a new job is a shame, but a preferable one don't ya think?

Most of the time gang violence (and I'd say that a murder ordered from prison qualifies as gang violence) doesn't involve non-gang members, or at least non-drug users. But it does occasionally spill over and folks with no connection to that world get hurt and killed. This was a more complex crime than you'd typically hear about (outside of poorly scripted made-for-TV crime dramas at least), but motivations don't matter when you're confronted with a participant in a much more brutal lifestyle. It's unwise to assume that if you just give a robber the money, or just do what he says, that you'll emerge unhurt. Fighting back is the best option, since you never know when someone is just trying to rob you, or if your murder will aid them in some scheme of theirs. And any company policy, or law, that prevents you from being able to protect yourself and those you care for isn't one to be given any credence or compliance.

Update: 03-28-13 10:48 a.m. MDT More can be found here.

Posted by Publicola at March 27, 2013 01:27 AM | TrackBack
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