(KFVS/AP) - Colorado's top state prison official who has ties to the Heartland was shot and killed when he answered the front door of his house Tuesday night, setting off a hunt for the shooter and raising questions about whether the attack had anything to do with his job.
Tom Clements, 58, was shot around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday in Monument, north of Colorado Springs.
Before going to Colorado, Clements spent 30 years with the Missouri Department of Corrections, at one time overseeing all prisons in southeast Missouri.
A witness reported a person driving away in a dark-colored "boxy" car that had its engine running at the time of the shooting, authorities said.
Investigators were exploring all possibilities, including that the shooting could have been related to Clements' job as executive director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, which he took after years working in Missouri corrections.
The killing stunned officials in both states. They described Clements, who is married with two daughters, as dedicated, funny, caring and an expert on the latest and best methods in his field who chose the Colorado job over retirement.
At a news conference, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper was red-eyed and somber, speaking haltingly as he said he didn't think the killing was part of any larger attack against his cabinet, members of which stood behind him, several of them crying. Others dabbed their eyes.
"Tom Clements dedicated his life to being a public servant, to making our state a better place and he is going to be deeply, deeply missed," said Hickenlooper, who planned to go to Monument to meet with Clements' family after signing gun-control bills.
It would have been simple to find where Clements lived. 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.
A family member called 911 to report the shooting. Search dogs were called in to comb through a wooded area around Clements' home, and authorities were going house to house trying to find out what neighbors heard and saw.
Clements received a bachelor's degree in sociology and a master's degree in public administration from the University of Missouri. He started with Missouri corrections in 1979 and over his 31 years there worked in prisons as well as probation and parole services. He was director of adult institutions when he left.
Before going to Colorado, Clement was the assistant director of institutions in charge of one third of the prisons in Missouri, including all of the southeast Missouri prisons. He oversaw prisons in Charleston, Bonn Terre, Farmington, and Potosi.
"This is a heartbreaking tragedy for Tom Clements' family and everyone who was fortunate enough to have known him, including his many friends at the Missouri Department of Corrections," Missouri Gov. Nixon said. "Tom dedicated his professional life and his considerable skills to public service and protection, and the citizens of Missouri join the people of Colorado in mourning this tremendous loss."
Hickenlooper appointed Clements to the post in 2011. He replaced Ari Zavaras, a former Denver police chief who led the department under two governors.
Since October 2011, his wife, Lisa Clements, has been the director of a state office that oversees the state's mental health institutes in Fort Logan and Pueblo, as well as community mental health and substance abuse centers.
Hickenlooper ordered flags lowered to half-staff at public buildings until the day after Clements' funeral.