The mother of the man suspected of gunning down the top prisons official in Colorado says her son was a compassionate child who “drifted into a dark period” after the death of his 16-year-old sister.
Jody Mangue wrote that her son, Evan Ebel, adored animals and walked up to the mentally ill in restaurants to engage them in conversation.
“He was full of energy, was funny and lit up a room,” she wrote in a posting on a website dedicated to the memory of the sister, Marin Ebel, who was killed in a car crash in January 2004.
Ebel, 28, is a suspect in the shooting death of Tom Clements, the head of the Colorado Department of Corrections, who was killed last Tuesday when he opened the front door of his home.
Ebel was killed Thursday after a wild chase and gunfight with sheriff’s deputies in Texas. He is also suspected in the killing of a Domino’s pizza delivery man outside Denver on March 17.
Mangue wrote that her son was already struggling before his sister’s death, but that the loss “threw him over the edge.”
“His life deteriorated after that and he just became numb and lost his direction altogether,” she wrote. In the posting, she thanked friends and strangers who have offered her support since last week.
The Denver Post reported over the weekend that Ebel’s documented decline began in October 2003, when he pointed a gun at the head of an acquaintance and demanded cash.
In the spring of 2004, police told the newspaper, Ebel carjacked a stranger, pointed a gun at a woman and accidentally shot himself in two separate incidents, once in the stomach and once in the leg.
He was sentenced to eight years in prison after pleading guilty in the carjacking case and was paroled in January of this year.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a friend of Ebel’s father, told CNN on Sunday that the suspect always “just seemed to have this bad streak, a streak of cruelty and anger.”
Law enforcement officials have said Ebel was involved with a white supremacist prison gang, the 211 Crew, which outside groups say demands that some of its members commit crimes once they leave prison.
Mangue wrote that her son was his own person, not a follower.
Despite having been linked to white supremacists, she wrote, “most white people in prison are automatically put in that category and sometimes forced to say they are even when they are not.”
Reuters contributed to this report.