Search warrant: Texas DA, wife shot multiple times

Fort Worth Star-TelegramApril 2, 2013 

KAUFMAN -- Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife both were shot multiple times inside their home near Forney, according to a search warrant affidavit filed by the Texas Rangers and released Monday.

"Family friends located Mike and Cynthia McLelland deceased inside their residence" at 6:45 p.m. Saturday, according to the affidavit.

The McLellands were killed two months after Kaufman County Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse, 57, was gunned down while walking to work at the county courthouse. Investigators have declined to link the two shootings, although County Judge Bruce Wood said Monday that he believes they are related.

"This was just not some random act," he said. "It seems to me there has to be some connection."

Investigators are also seeking access to the McLellands' cellphone records as well as a "tower dump" of all cell traffic near their home in the 9300 block of Blarney Stone Drive, according to the affidavit.

The couple's last known communication was a phone conversation with family members about 7:30 p.m. Friday, the document says.

Kaufman County deputies "observed cartridge casings inside the residence near the two bodies during a protective sweep of the residence," Texas Ranger Eric Kasper wrote in the affidavit. "Kaufman County Sheriff's Office personnel also observed multiple gunshot wounds on both victims."

CNN reported that the casings were from a .223-caliber gun, citing an unnamed source.

Also Monday, Brandi Fernandez, Kaufman County's first assistant district attorney, was named to lead the office for the next 21 days.

State law requires that the DA's first assistant conduct the affairs of the empty office until Gov. Rick Perry appoints a successor.

The courthouse opened as usual Monday, albeit with added security. The district attorney's office remained closed.

Aryan Brotherhood case

McLelland's office was part of a multi-agency task force that helped bring federal indictments last fall against 34 men identified as members of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas gang, a whites-only prison gang that the Justice Department described as extremely violent.

The Fort Worth and Carrollton police departments and the Tarrant County Sheriff's Department were also part of the task force.

The defendants were charged with murder, attempted murder, kidnappings, assaults and conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and cocaine.

Investigators have declined to say if the group is the focus of their efforts, but a Texas Department of Public Safety bulletin warned in December that the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas is "involved in issuing orders to inflict 'mass casualties or death' to law enforcement officials involved in the recent case."

Terry Pelz, a former Texas prison warden and expert on the Aryan Brotherhood, told The Associated Press that killing law enforcement representatives would be uncharacteristic of the group.

"They don't go around killing officials," he said. "They don't draw heat upon themselves."

But Pelz, who worked in the Texas prison system for 21 years, said that the gang has a history of threatening officials and of killing its own members or rivals.

In Kaufman, a city of 6,800 about 70 miles east of Fort Worth, residents and business owners are dealing with both the fear of continued violence and the sudden media attention.

Glenda Rand, who owns Daisy's clothing store on the courthouse square, said she saw the police cars race past on the morning of Jan. 31, when Hasse was fatally shot.

Rand said she had thought that life in town was returning to normal after the horror of Hasse's shooting, but the sense of calm was shattered by the new killings over the weekend.

"I sort of feel like it's not my town anymore, like an outside force has moved in and taken over," Rand said. "I think everybody in town sort of feels that way right now."

Outside her store Monday afternoon, television satellite trucks lined the square and constables escorted county workers as they left for lunch or returned from the courthouse annex with stacks of documents.

Rand, who said she was born on the courthouse square in 1948 in a small hospital above a drugstore, has heard the theories and rumors about who might be targeting prosecutors.

Some have speculated that the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas or another white supremacist group might have involved, but Rand said residents have no idea what to think.

"It had been real quiet around here since the first shooting," she said. "They had kept things real quiet. You really didn't hear anything about the shooting of Mr. Hasse and then this happened."

This report includes material from The Associated Press.

Bill Hanna, 817-390-7698; Twitter: @fwhanna

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