DALLAS (Reuters) - The killing of a Texas district attorney and his wife, in the same county where an assistant prosecutor was shot dead outside a courthouse in January, does not appear to be random, a local official said on Sunday.
Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, were found with fatal gunshot wounds at their home near the town of Forney, Texas, on Saturday, two months after Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse was gunned down.
“In my view it appears that it was not random. It was a targeted attack,” Forney Mayor Darren Rozell told CNN.
“We’re obviously sad and shocked but there’s some outrage too,” said Rozell.
He did not elaborate on a possible motive for the double murder, but neither he nor Kaufman County Sheriff David Byrnes ruled out a link between the killings.
Hasse was shot and killed the same day the U.S. Department of Justice released a statement saying the Kaufman County District Attorney’s Office was involved in a racketeering case against the Aryan Brotherhood white supremacist group.
“It’s unnerving to the law enforcement community, it’s unnerving to the community at large,” Byrnes told a news conference. “And that’s why we’re striving to assure the community that we are still providing public safety and will be able to do that.”
Byrnes’ office reported the shooting deaths late on Saturday.
Kaufman County Judge Bruce Wood said the last known contact with either of the McLellands was about 7 p.m. on Friday.
Wood described McLelland as a friend as well as a colleague. He said he and McLelland had spoken regularly about Hasse and the investigation.
“I can’t fathom someone doing this,” Wood said. “It is completely senseless, and completely out of the blue. Perhaps it is retaliation, but we won’t know that until someone is caught.”
Numerous state and federal officials, including the FBI and Texas Rangers, are involved in the investigation, Byrnes said. He said it was too early to discuss whether there were any suspects.
McLelland, a 23-year U.S. Army veteran who served in Operation Desert Storm, had five children including a son who is an officer with the Dallas police department, according to a biography on the county website.
Authorities have made no arrests in Hasse’s killing. McLelland had vowed to bring his killer to justice.
Earlier this month, the Hasse slaying case took a new turn when the Kaufman police chief said the FBI was looking for any link between Hasse’s death and the March 19 shooting death of Colorado prisons chief Tom Clements.
Evan Spencer Ebel, 28, a Colorado prison parolee suspected of killing Clements, died in a shootout with police in Decatur, Texas, on March 21. Ebel was a member of a white supremacist prison gang called the 211 Crew and had a swastika tattoo, prison records indicate.
Judge Wood said Kaufman County investigators had found no link between the shooting death of Clements and the killing of Hasse, however. “No connection was found to the Colorado shooting,” he said.
Reporting by Marice Richter in Dallas; additional reporting by Jon Nielsen in Waxahachie, Texas, and Corrie MacLaggan in Austin, Texas; writing by Tom Brown; editing by Jackie Frank and Todd Eastham