March 20, 2013

Head of Colo. prisons fatally shot at home

The Associated Press

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Searchers use a dog Wednesday to search the area around the Monument, Colo., home of Colorado Department of Corrections Executive Director Tom Clements, who was shot and killed Tuesday evening.

AP

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Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper speaks at a news conference at the Capitol in Denver on Wednesday, March 20, 2013, where he talks about the shooting death of Tom Clements, the executive director of the Department of Corrections, who was shot and killed when he answered the front door of his house Tuesday night, in Monument, Colo. Police are searching for the gunman and trying to figure out if the attack had anything to do with his position. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

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He lived in a wooded neighborhood of large, two-story houses on expansive 2-acre lots dotted with evergreen trees in an area known as the Black Forest. Long driveways connect the homes to narrow, winding roads that thread the hills. After word of the shooting spread Tuesday, residents slept with shotguns at the ready, fearful the shooter would return.

It would have been simple to find Clements' house. It took two clicks to get his correct street address through a publicly available internet locator service Wednesday morning. The listing also included his previous home address in Missouri.

McGovern said he tells his prosecutors to assume that any possible assailants can find their home addresses online and to check for areas they may be especially vulnerable such as neighboring alleys and poorly lit porches.

There is no central database of attacks on legal officials and senior law enforcement executives like Clement.

McGovern has documented 133 of them in the U.S. since 1950 by searching through news accounts and court cases. The total includes 41 killings of judges, prosecutors and other justice and police officials. The assaults usually come with little warning, he said.

Steven K. Swensen, a former U.S. Marshall who runs a business consulting on security for court officials, said that attacks on legal staff used to occur in courtrooms. As security has been expanded to protect those rooms, then courthouses, the attacks have spilled out further and further.

"Now we're having more violence off-site, in judge's houses, on their way to and from work," Swensen said.

While Clements generally kept a low profile, his killing comes a week after he denied a request by a Saudi national to serve out the remainder of a Colorado prison sentence in Saudi Arabia. He cited al-Turki's refusal to undergo sex offender treatment.

Homaidan al-Turki insisted the case was politically motivated. He owned a company that some years ago sold CDs of sermons recorded by Anwar al-Awlaki, killed in a drone strike in Yemen in 2011. His conviction angered Saudi officials and prompted the U.S. State Department to send Colorado Attorney General John Suthers to Saudi Arabia to meet with King Abdullah, Crown Prince Sultan and al-Turki's family.

Attorney Henry Solano, one of al-Turki's attorneys, said he has not been contacted by investigators and declined to comment on the shooting.

Clements also recently requested chemicals to execute Nathan Dunlap, who was convicted of killing four people during a 1991 shooting rampage at a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant and is scheduled to become the second person executed in Colorado since the death penalty was reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976.

Clements is at least the second state prisons chief killed in office. Michael Francke, director of the Oregon corrections department, was stabbed to death outside his office in 1989 in what prosecutors described as a bungled car burglary. A former Oregon prison inmate was found guilty of aggravated murder in 1991 and sentenced to life in prison.

Hickenlooper ordered flags lowered to half-staff at public buildings until the day after Clements' funeral.

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The wooded home in Monument, Colo., of Colorado Department of Corrections director Tom Clements is seen on Wednesday, March 20, 2013. Clements was shot to death Tuesday night when he answered the front door. (AP Photo/The Colorado Springs Gazette, Mark Reis)

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This undated image provided by the Colorado Department of Corrections shows its director Tom Clements. Sheriff's Lt. Jeff Kramer says Clements was shot to death around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday night March 19, 2013 when he answered his front door in Monument, north of Colorado Springs. Police are searching for the shooter. (AP Photo/Colorado Department of Corrections)

 


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