DENVER (Reuters) - One of two white supremacist prison gang members named as persons of interest in the Colorado shooting death of the state prisons chief at the front door of his home last month was arrested on unrelated warrants on Friday, police said.
James Lohr, 47, was taken into custody by police in Colorado Springs, about 60 miles south of Denver, following pursuit by car and on foot, El Paso County Sheriff’s spokesman Lieutenant Jeff Kramer said.
He said that Lohr was a member of the 211 Crew, the same prison-based white supremacist gang to which 28-year-old Colorado parolee Evan Spencer Ebel belonged.
Ebel, who was killed in a March 21 roadside gun battle with Texas police following a high speed chase through Decatur, was named a suspect in the slaying of Tom Clements, executive director of the Colorado Department of Corrections.
“They (Lohr and Ebel) knew each other. They were associates of one another,” Kramer told Reuters. “We know that Mr. Lohr had at least recent contact with Mr. Ebel, prior to the homicide of Mr. Clements.”
Clements was gunned down on March 19 when he answered the front door to his home near the town of Monument, about halfway between Denver and Colorado Springs.
Ebel has also been named a suspect in the murder of pizza delivery man Nathan Leon, 27, two days before Clements’ slaying.
Lohr and another white supremacist, 31-year-old Thomas James Guolee, have been described by police as “persons of interest” in the Clements case but not suspects in the investigation.
Kramer said a Colorado Springs patrol officer spotted Lohr in a vehicle overnight and tried to pull him over, but Lohr sped away. Lohr fled on foot after his car became disabled and he was captured about two hours later, Kramer said.
He is being held on a $250,000 bond for felony vehicle eluding and for three outstanding warrants unrelated to the Clements case.
Guolee remains at large and on Friday his father urged him to turn himself in to authorities.
“I would tell him running is the worst thing to do - just come clean,” Phil Guolee told Reuters in a phone interview from his Wisconsin home.
Phil Guolee said his son likely joined the 211 Crew for protection from other racially-linked gangs while in prison.
“He was just 17 going on 18, and wasn’t in a gang when he went to prison,” he said. “Then he gets released and kicked to the curb with no job skills.”
A search of Ebel’s car following the shootout in Texas turned up a pizza deliverer’s shirt, a pizza box and heat bag. Ballistics tests established the gun he fired at police in Texas as the weapon used in the Clements’ murder, police said.
Court officials later said they had determined that Ebel had been mistakenly released from prison in January, four years too early, due to a clerical error. And Corrections Department records revealed he had skipped out on his parole days before the Colorado killings.
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper said on Thursday he was ordering the Corrections Department to audit its records to ensure all inmates are serving appropriate sentences, and he asked the National Institute of Corrections to review the department’s parole operations.
Authorities have said they were looking for ties between the murder of Clements and the January 31 slaying in Texas of Mark Hasse, a prosecutor in the Kaufman County District Attorney’s Office. Kaufman County is east of Dallas.
Public interest in the Hasse killing was heightened last Saturday when Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, were found shot to death at their home near the Texas town of Fourney. Fourney Mayor Darren Rozell has called the couple’s slaying a “targeted attack.”
Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver; Additional reporting by Scott Malone in Boston and Tom Brown in Miami; Writing by Steve Gorman and Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Nick Zieminski and Tim Dobbyn