Kaufman DA, wife found fatally shot in their home

Posted Saturday, Mar. 30, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife were found fatally shot in their home near Forney Saturday evening.

Lt. Justin Lewis of the Kaufman County Sheriff’s Department confirmed the deaths but did not provide additional information.

Mark Hasse, 57, an assistant district attorney in McLelland’s office, was shot and killed Jan. 31 as he walked from a county-owned parking lot to the Kaufman County Courthouse.

“It is a shock,” Kaufman Police Chief Chris Aulbaugh told The Dallas Morning News.

"It was a shock with Mark Hasse, and now you can just imagine the double shock, and until we know what happened, I really can’t confirm that it’s related, but you always have to assume until it’s proven otherwise.”

Sources told CBS 11 news that McLelland was shot multiple times with what is believed to be an assault rifle while his wife was shot once.

Investigators told reporters that the door to the home was kicked in.

Aulbaugh said that the Texas Rangers were helping with the investigation at the McLellands’ home in an unincorporated part of the county, but that the sheriff’s department will be leading the investigation.

“Because we have to treat it as related (to the Hasse investigation), we’ll be working side by side again,” Aulbaugh told The Morning News.

McLelland told the Star-Telegram last week that he was anxious to find Hasse’s killer.

“I would like a few minutes with the person who did this to Mark,” McLelland said. “I really want to find who did this.”

At Hasse’s Feb. 9 funeral, McLelland vowed to find Hasse’s killer.

“He knows and I know there will be a reckoning,” McLelland said. “Too many people are focusing on that. That’s not going to be a problem.”

Possible links

McLelland told the Star-Telegram that FBI offices in Dallas and Denver were looking for any similarities between Hasse’s shooting and the shooting of Tom Clements, executive director of the Colorado Department of Corrections.

Clements was shot and killed March 19 as he answered the front door of his Monument, Colo., home.

That shooting is being linked to Evan Spencer Ebel, 28, a Colorado parolee described as a member of a white supremacist prison gang. Ebel is also a suspect in the shooting of a Denver pizza deliveryman, Nathan Leon.

On March 21, Ebel was driving a black Cadillac south on U.S. 287 near Bowie when Montague County Sheriff’s Deputy James Boyd pulled him over. Ebel shot Boyd three times, striking him twice in the chest and grazing his head with another bullet. Boyd was wearing a bullet-proof vest and survived the shooting.

Ebel fled the scene and a high-speed chase ensued south on 287 toward Wise County. Troopers, sheriffs’ deputies and Decatur police joined the pursuit, which reached speeds of 100 mph. Ebel fired numerous shots at the pursuing officers.

In Decatur, Ebel left 287 and ended up on U.S. 380, where his car was struck by a rock hauler.

He then exited his vehicle and was shot by deputies. He was pronounced dead at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth.

Shell casings recovered from the 1991 black Cadillac Ebel was driving were the same brand and caliber as those used in the fatal shooting of Clements, Colorado’s top prison official, according to a Texas Ranger’s search warrant affidavit.

McLelland said last week that he didn’t believe Ebel was connected to Hasse’s killing.

He said his office had been taking precautions since Hasse’s shooting. He said a constant flow of tips had been coming in but none had yet to pan out.

“Whoever did this was smarter than the average bear. They knew what they were doing,” McClelland said.

Authorities said Hasse was killed when one or two gunmen got out of a gray or silver car, opened fire and then sped away.

Witnesses told police the assailant or assailants were wearing black clothing and tactical vests. Police said there were conflicting accounts on whether the assailants were wearing a pullover mask or a hoodie.

McLelland said Hasse’s death had been difficult on many in his office.

“Some of my staff is young enough that they haven’t lost a loved one, so this was a shock to them," McLelland said.

“A lot of people have been walking around here on pins and needles, looking over their shoulder. We’ve tried to rein things in, beef up security in the office, have people park closer to the courthouse and keep an eye on each other,” he said last week.

Rancher’s son

McLelland was raised on a ranch in Wortham as the only son in a ranching family, according to the Kaufman County district attorney’s website.

After graduating from Wortham High School, he attended Navarro Junior College on a football scholarship and finished undergraduate studies with a degree in history from the University of Texas at Austin.

After graduation, McLelland served in the Army in a career that would span 23 years. While on active duty, he received a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Ball State University in Indiana.

McLelland was later employed as a diagnostic psychologist for both the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation and Dallas County Mental Health Mental Retardation.

While working as a psychologist, McLelland attended Texas Wesleyan School of Law in Fort Worth and earned his juris doctorate in 1993. He practiced law for 18 years as a criminal defense attorney, mental health judge and special prosecutor for Child Protective Services.

McLelland and his wife had two daughters and three sons. One son is a Dallas police officer.

Staff writer Steve Campbell contributed to this report, which includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

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