|Driver in Texas Shootout May Be Colorado Murder Suspect|
|By KEVIN DOLAK (@kdolak) , CAROL McKINLEY and CLAYTON SANDELL (@Clayton_Sandell)||Mar 21, 2013, 10:57 AM|
A high speed chase and shootout that spanned two Texas counties and ended in the death of the driver today may be connected to the murder of Colorado's prisons chief earlier this week, cops said.
The suspect is still in a hospital awaiting organ harvesting but police said he was "legally deceased" after the shootout.
Police said that a man driving a black Cadillac with Colorado license plates fired several times at an officer during a traffic stop and took off, firing at pursuing officers at speeds that exceeded 100 mph, police said a news conference.
The suspect, who police have been unable to identify, wasn't stopped until his vehicle slammed into an 18-wheel tractor trailer. He came out of the car with a gun and began firing again at police who cut him down with return fire, police said.
"He wasn't planning on being taken alive. He was planning on hurting somebody," an officer said during the news conference.
Authorities said that Colorado investigators are on their way to Texas to determine whether it is the same suspect accused of killing Colorado prison chief Tom Clements. Clements was killed at his home Tuesday by an unknown assailant.
"Do we suspect it is related [to the Colorado killing]? It may be," Wise County Sheriff David Walker said. "I believe the description of the car in Colorado is a box style black car" that was identified as possibly being a Lincoln. "This is box style car with Colorado plates."
In addition to investigating a link between the driver and Clements' murder, authorities tell ABC News they are also looking into whether the suspect may be involved in the killing of a Domino's pizza driver.
Authorities said evidence found today in the suspect's car-- including a Domino's pizza uniform jacket and a cardboard pizza box-- may link the suspect to the unsolved murder of 27-year-old pizza delivery man Nathan Leon, according to three law enforcement sources who did not want to be identified because they are not authorized to speak publicly about the case.
Leon was found dead on Sunday in Golden, Colo., a suburb of Denver. Clements was killed at his home in Monument, Colo., about 50 miles away, on Tuesday.
Police said that the driver of the black Cadillac was pulled over by highway patrol officers in Montague County, Texas, and began firing on the officer who pulled him over. The officer was hit several times in the chest, but was protected by his vest. He was also grazed in the head.
The injured officer alerted other law enforcement to the driver, triggering a rolling shootout with deputies in his pursuit through Montague and Wise counties.
The suspect was eventually hit by a truck on a Texas highway, and continued shooting at sheriff's deputies. He was shot multiple times and taken to a nearby hospital and then airlifted to John Peters Hospital in Fort Worth. Police said the suspect is legally dead but is being kept on life support to harvest his organs.
Detectives investigating Clements' murder appear to rule out the possibility that he was a victim of random violence and believe that he was specifically targeted.
"Is it possible this was random? Absolutely," County Undersheriff Paula Presley told ABC News today. "Then again you have to look at what the motive would have been if this was a random shooting. At this point, there's nothing that leads us in that direction."
"It appears at this point in time that Mr. Clements was obviously the target of this homicide," Presley said.
Clements, 58, was shot Tuesday night at his home in an upscale neighborhood in Monument, Colorado.
At least a half-dozen neighbors came forward in the wake of the shooting to say they had seen a dark, "boxy" car around Clements' house at the time of the murder. One witness said they saw the car parked and running Tuesday night, with no one inside, while another said they saw a white male driving the car, according to police.
Earlier today, investigators said they were looking at prison cases as a possible motive for the murder. And they said that Clements had posted an ad on Craigslist just hours before he was shot, advertising a used $1,200 mountain bike.
One prison case that drew speculation was Clements' denial about a week before his death of a request by a Saudi national, Homaidan al-Turki, to serve his prison sentence in Saudi Arabia.
Al-Turki, whose company sold recordings of speeches by American Islamic militant Anwar al-Awlaki, had been convicted in 2006 of false imprisonment and sexual assault.
Because of the media attention al-Turki's case has received, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Corrections told ABC News that Al-Turki has now been removed from the general prison population for his own safety.