DENVER (AP) – A white supremacist prison gang member was arrested and another was still being sought for questioning Friday in the death of Colorado’s prisons chief as authorities investigated whether the gang had any ties to the killing.
James Lohr, who has the words “Hard” and “Luck” tattooed where his eyebrows would be, was taken into custody early Friday in Colorado Springs. He was wanted for questioning in the slaying of Department of Corrections Director Tom Clements.
Authorities believe Lohr was in contact with gang associate Evan Ebel days before the killings of Clements and pizza delivery man Nate Leon. Police said they believe Ebel killed Leon and Clements less than a week before he died in a Texas shootout, but the motive is unclear.
Clements was shot to death March 19 in Monument, just north of Colorado Springs. Leon was killed two days earlier. His body was found in the Denver suburb of Golden.
Colorado Springs police arrested Lohr after a short foot chase that started when officers tried to stop the car he was driving, according to a statement. Lohr was booked on felony evading charges and also was held on three outstanding arrest warrants unrelated to the Clements case. He is scheduled to appear in court Monday.
Investigators said surveillance video from a business showed a firearm being thrown from Lohr’s vehicle before his arrest. The gun was turned over to authorities by someone who received it from a man who later spotted it and picked it up, sheriff’s officials said Friday night.
Authorities issued an alert Wednesday asking other law enforcement agencies to be on the lookout for Lohr and Thomas Guolee, both of Colorado Springs, who were identified as 211 Crew members. Ebel was a member of the same gang.
Lohr, 47, and Guolee, 31, are not being called suspects in Clements’ death, but their names surfaced during the investigation, El Paso County sheriff’s spokesman Jeff Kramer said. Both were wanted on warrants unrelated to the Clements investigation.
Kramer has said it was possible that one or both of the men were headed to Nevada or Texas.
Guolee’s mother, Deborah Eck, told The Denver Post that Guolee called her husband a week and a half ago to ask for a ride to the police station so he could turn himself in for what she believed was a parole violation. But she said they never heard back from him.
Police came to her house Wednesday looking for Guolee.
“One cop said if he would have turned himself in for violation of probation, he probably wouldn’t be in the situation he was now,” Eck told the newspaper.
Lohr has been wanted in Las Animas County in southeastern Colorado. He was arrested for violating a protection order in Trinidad on Dec. 1, 2012, after police found that he’d been drinking with friends at a tattoo shop. According to court documents, drinking was a violation of a protective order against him, and he was arrested. Lohr then failed to appear in court in that case Feb. 20, and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Lohr has a shaved head in his booking photo. In addition to the words on his eyebrows, he has a shamrock – a tattoo favored by some 211 Crew members – near his right eye.
Lohr has a criminal record going back to 1992. In 1996, after he pleaded guilty to burglarizing a home, court records show he was ordered to have no contact with his estranged wife after she told police he repeatedly broke into her home and stole items to pawn.
In 2006, Lohr was charged with burglary with a weapon and assault causing serious bodily injury. Court records show those charged were dismissed because of a lack of evidence.
Court records show Guolee was arrested in 2001 after a member of the Crips gang told Colorado Springs police he was jumped by Guolee and another gang member because they believed he was a member of a rival gang. The witness told police Guolee and the other gang member punched and kicked him in the face and left him bleeding.
In 2007, Guolee was charged with assault and intimidating a witness while in the El Paso County jail after an inmate said he was assaulted by three men, including Guolee, because they thought he was going to testify against a suspect in another case. Authorities said the man was beaten so badly he could have been permanently disfigured.
The complete court records were not immediately available, so the outcome of some of those cases was unclear. Authorities also have not released the subject of Guolee’s warrant.
On Thursday, Gov. John Hickenlooper announced a sweeping review of Colorado’s prison and parole operations, as more evidence piled up showing how Ebel slipped through the cracks in the criminal justice system to become a suspect in Clements’ death.
Ebel was released from prison four years early due to a clerical error and violated his parole terms five days before the prisons chief was killed.
Officials said the state will audit inmates’ legal cases to ensure they are serving the correct amount of time. They’ll ask the National Institute of Corrections to review the state’s parole system, which is struggling under large caseloads.
Colorado lawmakers also are considering spending nearly $500,000 to hire more parole officers because of what happened with Ebel.
Ebel was killed in a shootout with Texas authorities March 21. Investigators have said the gun he used in the shootout also was used to kill Clements when the prisons chief answered the front door of his home.
Ebel has been the only suspect named in Clements’ death. Investigators have said they’re looking into the gang he joined in prison and whether it was connected to the attack, among other possible motives.
By STEVEN K. PAULSON, Associated Press
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