DENVER (AP) – A man questioned in the killing of Colorado’s prisons chief got into a shootout with police after trying to break in to the home of a former corrections employee, authorities said Thursday.
Investigators would not say whether last week’s incident involving Thomas Guolee, 34, was related to shooting death of Department of Corrections Director Tom Clements nearly three years ago.
A gunman killed Clements when he answered his front door in March 2013. The only suspect was Evan Ebel, a member of a white supremacist prison gang who mistakenly was released on parole four years early due to a clerical error.
Investigators interviewed Guolee and another man, both members of Ebel’s gang, in the weeks after the slaying. Authorities looked into whether the two helped Ebel plan or carry out Clements’ death, but neither man was charged in the case.
Ebel also killed a Denver computer technician and pizza delivery driver and then fled to Texas. There, he shot a sheriff’s deputy before being killed in a shootout with authorities.
Guolee denied any involvement in the killings in a 2013 interview with The Denver Post.
The corrections department said it alerted employees to the Dec. 30 break-in attempt in Colorado Springs. After trying to get into the home of a former corrections worker, Guolee shot at responding officers, who returned fire and injured him. Guolee then drove off and crashed his car about 3 miles away.
Guolee faces several charges, including attempted first-degree murder of a police officer. He’s being held in jail on $1 million bond. Court records do not list an attorney who could comment on his behalf.
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office refused to comment further on the case, and all court documents have been sealed. Reached by phone, the former employee declined to comment, citing safety concerns.
The corrections department “had no concrete information that would suggest we needed to do more” than tell management staff about the break-in and have them inform employees, spokeswoman Adrienne Jacobson said. She would not provide information about the former employee or his role with the agency.
The governor’s office was notified about the break-in attempt and will receive information as the investigation progresses, said Kathy Green, a spokeswoman for Gov. John Hickenlooper.
The corrections department’s central office is in Colorado Springs and many of its employees live in the area.
That included Clements, whose murder the sheriff’s office is still investigating. Before the prison chief’s death, Ebel forced a pizza delivery diver, Nathan Leon, to read a rambling statement into a voice recorder that seemed to denounce prison officials for putting inmates such as himself into solitary confinement.
– By Sadie Gurman, AP Writer
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