Colorado jail chief shot dead on eve of gun law approval

Police search for killer as governor signs into law hard-won package of gun-control measures


As Colorado’s governor signed a hard-won package of gun-control measures yesterday, officials across the state were reeling from the shooting dead of the state’s prisons chief.

In the pine-covered hills of the central Colorado town of Monument, investigators were searching for traces of the shooter who walked up to the home of Tom Clements, executive director of the Department of Corrections; rang the doorbell; and gunned him down as he answered the door at about 8.30pm on Tuesday.

Officials with the El Paso County sheriff’s office said they were looking for a “boxy” two-door car spotted on Tuesday night in the neighbourhood, its engine running but with nobody inside. There were few other insights about who had shot Mr Clements, or why.

Investigators said they had no suspect, and they did not believe robbery was a motive. They said Mr Clements’s post, overseeing more than 20,000 inmates in Colorado’s prisons and parole system, might have made him a target.

News of the shooting rippled through the state Capitol, where lawmakers and crime victims gathered to watch Gov John W Hickenlooper sign the gun legislation.

Tearful elected officials hugged and shared memories of Mr Clements (58), recalling him as a dedicated public servant.

Mr Hickenlooper’s voice cracked as he spoke about Mr Clements’s death. He called it “an act of intimidation” that had cut down a thoughtful and deliberative man who had tried to reform Colorado’s prisons by reducing the numbers in solitary confinement.

Mr Hickenlooper said Mr Clements had been supportive of the gun measures “but not particularly active” during their emotional and contentious path toward passage.

The new laws require background checks for private gun sales in addition to the checks already mandated for purchases at shops and gun shows.

They also ban ammunition magazines with more than 15 rounds, a feature that the governor said could turn “killers into killing machines”. – ( New York Times )