Gov. John Hickenlooper praised the work and life of Tom Clements, his pick two years ago to direct the state’s corrections department.

Clements, 58, was shot and killed Tuesday night when he answered the door to his home in Monument, north of Colorado Springs. A police hunt is under way for the at-large shooter.

“We all stand here with heavy hearts and insufficient words,” Hickenlooper said in Denver, surrounded by members of his cabinet. “We lured Tom away. He was retiring … he was far and away the best choice we could find anywhere in the country.”

Clements took over as head of corrections in January 2011 after having served almost 30 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections.

His sense of humor was unpredictable and astute, the governor said, mentioning that Clements would let zingers fly.

“He was a great friend to me,” Hickenlooper said. “In many ways he helped define what a public servant is. He did his job quietly and intently. He cared deeply about his staff, his family and his community. In his approach to corrections he was all about best practices and using data to continually improve the way we do things.”

Additionally, Clements was an advocate for the repurposing of the closed Fort Lyon correctional facility.

“He was committed to making sure we did everything possible to put that building back to good use,” he said. 

Flags will be flown at half staff at the Capitol until the funeral.

Hickenlooper asked for privacy for Clement’s wife, Lisa, and their two daughters. Hickenlooper said he is headed to Monument after signing several gun-control bills Wednesday morning aimed at reducing gun violence in Colorado.