DENVER — In a bizarre twist, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper confirmed Friday that he is good friends with the father of a parolee suspected in the murder of the state’s corrections chief, but denied intervening on the son’s behalf while he was in prison.
Mr. Hickenlooper said in a statement that he and Jack Ebel, father of now-dead suspect, have been friends for 30 years. While the governor said he was aware that his friend’s son was in state prison, he said he played no role in how the inmate was treated.
Evan Spencer Ebel, 28, died following a shoot-out Thursday with Texas deputies. He is under investigation in last week’s shooting deaths of Tom Clements, head of the Colorado Department of Corrections, and Denver pizza deliverer Nathan Leon.
“Although John loved his son, he never asked me to intervene on his behalf and I never asked for any special treatment for his son,” said Mr. Hickenlooper. “Based on information we received today, we understand that Evan Ebel served every day of his original sentence and was released on mandatory parole at the end of the time he was ordered to be incarcerated.”
In a stunning coincidence, the governor referred to Evan Ebel and his family in comments at a press conference Wednesday on Mr. Clements‘ death. Mr. Hickenlooper said he told Mr. Clements that he had a friend whose son had spent time in administrative segregation, better known as solitary confinement.
“When I first interviewed [Clements], we talked about ad seg,” said Mr. Hickenlooper at the press conference, as reported by KUSA-TV in Denver. “I told him I had an old friend whose son had gone down the wrong track and been put in ad seg for a long time, solitary confinement.”
At the time Evan Ebel was not a suspect in the case. On Thursday, he shot and wounded a sheriff’s deputy after being pulled over in a routine drug interdiction in Montague County, Texas, then led authorities on a high-speed chase.
He crashed into an 18-wheeler and was shot as he exchanged gunfire with officers after exiting his black 1991 Cadillac DeVille. Mr. Clements‘ neighbors in Monument had reported seeing a dark, boxy, 1990s-era car in front of the victim’s house before he was murdered.
Authorities said Evan Ebel was a member of 211 Crew, a white-supremacist prison group, and had an extensive arrest record. He was released in January after serving eight years for second-degree assault, as well as another six years for assaulting a prison guard in 2006.
“Every killer has a mother and father, usually with broken hearts,” said Mr. Hickenlooper. “Jack is one of the most kind and generous people I know. His son had a bad streak that I know he tried desperately to correct.”
Mr. Leon, 27, was found dead of a gunshot wound March 17 in Golden after making a pizza delivery. He worked weekends at Domino’s pizza as a second job.
• This story is based in part on wire-service reports.