Texas County 'On Alert' After Deaths Of Prosecutor, Wife

12:35 PM, Apr 1, 2013   |    comments
Kaufman County Texas District Attorney Mike McLelland was shot and killed, along with his wife, Cynthia Woodward McLelland, in their home in Forney, Texas, on March 30.(Photo: Kaufman County website)
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(USA TODAY/AP) -- The district attorney's office in Kaufman, Texas, was closed Monday morning and the courthouse was under tight security following the weekend shooting deaths of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife in their home.

The shootings on Saturday came two months after McLelland's assistant district attorney, Mark Hasse, was fatally shot in a parking lot a block from the courthouse on Jan. 31.

Authorities appear to be stymied in their investigations of both killings.

"We're still in shock," Kaufman County Judge Bruce Wood told reporters Monday. "I guess that's the best way to describe our feelings about this latest incident. I've searched all weekend to think of the right word to describe and I can't come up with a single word. 'Unbelievable, this really didn't happen,' but it did. This whole thing is shocking to all of us."

Wood said security protection had been ordered for several county officials.

"We're very much on alert," he said. "We obviously have some folks that are out to do harm to elected officials."

Authorities have been investigating the possibility of a connection of both killings with the brutal Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, a prison gang of about 3,000 inmates.

In December, the Texas Department of Public Safety warned in a statewide bulletin that authorities had received "credible information" that the group was "actively planning retaliation against law enforcement officials" who helped return indictments in Houston against a number of gang members, including its leadership.

Earlier this month, the Kaufman police chief said the FBI was looking for any connection between the attack on Hasse and the shooting death March 19 of Colorado prisons chief Tom Clements in his home.

Colorado authorities have noted that the suspect in that shooting, Evan Spencer Ebel, 28, was a member of a white supremacist prison gang called the 211 Crew when he served time in a Colorado prison.

Ebel later died in a shootout with Texas law enforcement officers northwest of Dallas.

McLelland himself, in an Associated Press interview shortly after the Colorado slaying, raised the possibility that Hasse was gunned down by a white supremacist gang.

McLelland, elected district attorney in 2010, said his office had prosecuted several cases against racist gangs, who have a strong presence around Kaufman County, a mostly rural area dotted with subdivisions, with a population of about 104,000.

Kaufman prosecutors were among scores in Texas who were strongly pursuing cases against the prison gangs.

However, there has been no evidence so far of a link to the white supremacist gangs in either of the Kaufman shootings, except for that fact that they appear to be a professional "hit."

Judge Wood has also said that Kaufman County investigators have found no link between the Clements shooting and the killing of Hasse.

Harris County District Attorney Mike Anderson said on Sunday that he had accepted the Houston sheriff's offer of 24-hour security for him and his family after learning about the slayings, mostly over concerns for his family's safety.

Anderson said he also would take precautions at his office, the largest one in Texas, which has more than 270 prosecutors.

"I think district attorneys across Texas are still in a state of shock," Anderson said Sunday.

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