COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - I first met the Clements family in the spring of 2001, in the college town of Columbia, Mo., where I graduated and still have many close friends. I had left my last news job in Mobile, Ala., and decided to return home and figure out what I would do next.
The Clements attended Woodcrest Chapel, a church similar in style to Woodmen Valley Chapel in Colorado Springs. Some of my friends founded that church and I had worshiped there during visits back home. One of my jobs was working as a janitor at Woodcrest, and I got to know most of the attendees.
I got to know the Clements daughters, Rachel and Sara, who were in high school then and active in the church's youth group. We got along well. In time, I met Tom and his wife, Lisa. They were always kind and friendly to me. I especially remember how tall Tom was.
After I was hired by KRDO NewsChannel 13 two years later, I only saw the Clements once a year when I returned to Woodcrest to help out during Easter. Then I learned that in 2011, Gov. John Hickenlooper appointed Tom to be executive director of the Colorado Department of Corrections.
Before that, I was unaware of Tom's background in prison management. We never discussed our careers while at Woodcrest. We talked about our lives, and how Rachel and Sara were doing.
Tom and I shared a brief phone conversation last year, just before he was seriously hurt in a bicycle crash (he was an avid cyclist). We caught up on how we were doing, and talked about having a reunion someday. Unfortunately, we never got around to it.
Wednesday was a sad day. As a news reporter I've covered many tragedies, but couldn't believe it when I saw Tom identified as the victim of Tuesday night's shooting. My first question was, "Why him?" followed by "Who would do that to him?"
Some of my friends in Columbia were just as stunned, and were asking me for details on why Tom was shot. As of yet, I have no answers for them.
I reached out to the Clements family and got a brief response from Rachel on Facebook. I'm sure that when the time is right, I'll see them again and offer my condolences personally.
Those who knew Tom well, knew he was a good husband, father and friend. What I'll remember most about him, is that he seemed to love Colorado as much as I do.