Evan Ebel, a member of the prison gang known as the 211 Crew, was suspected in the March killing of Colorado Department of Corrections chief Tom Clements. A few days after Clements' murder, Ebel died as a result of injuries sustained during a high-speed chase, car crash, and subsequent shoot-out with sheriff's deputies in Texas.
The latest news, about the judge in hiding, came late Sunday from The Denver Post, which spoke with a person described as a "key source" who had "direct access to and knowledge of sealed court documents including investigative files, verified details of the investigation, including allegations that the assassination of Clements was ordered by leaders of the white supremacist prison gang."
According to the Post, El Paso County Judge Jonathan Walker took a leave of absence earlier this month, after "criminal sources" warned that 211 Crew leaders wanted him killed. Walker moved out of his house, bought a .380-caliber handgun, began wearing a bulletproof vest, and was placed under police protection.
Walker had signed numerous search warrants against members of the 211 Crew, allowing authorities to search gang leaders' homes and cellphone records for ties to the Clements murder.
"These guys are serious," the source told the Post. "Whether it's legit or just jail talk to wield influence, I don't know. Who is going to take a chance on that?"
Despite the source's assertions, a Colorado State Court Administrator's spokesman told the newspaper that no judge from the El Paso County courts has been on leave. Walker was due to return to his courtroom on Monday morning.
According to the Post, other state officials, including Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), have been under special protection since Clements was killed.