A Colorado judge went into hiding for two weeks and received police protection after alleged death threats from a prison gang for his role in the murder investigation of the state's prison chief earlier this year, investigators say.
Authorities say El Paso County judge Jonathan Walker received threats from the 211 Crew, a prison gang with ties to white supremacists and drug trafficking, the officials said.
Walker apparently angered the 211 Crew after he signed about 20 search warrants for investigators looking into the March murders of a pizza delivery driver Nathan Leon and Tom Clements, the head of Colorado's prison system. Police say 211 Crew member and recent parolee Evan Ebel was the shooter.
"We executed several search warrants and this judge signed those warrants," El Paso County Undersheriff Paula Presley said.
Ebel is suspected in the killing of Domino's Pizza driver Nathan Leon on March 17 near Golden, just outside Denver. He's also a suspect in the shooting of Clements at his Monument, Colo., home on March 19. Ebel died days later in a shootout with Texas cops.
Criminal defense investigator Bobby Brown says the 211 Crew should be considered very dangerous.
"They want to kill cops, people from district attorney's office, anybody that represents law enforcement," Brown said. "They are vicious. They are for real. The 211 Crew right not can only be described as a cancer."
With no arrests yet, authorities fear more people connected to this case are in danger.
"This is very serious. Anytime anybody's life is threatened, we don't take it lightly," Presley said. "I can tell you what kind of message we are going to send and that is we're not going to tolerate it."
Walker has resumed work at the county courthouse.