Affidavit: Kaufman DA, wife shot multiple times

Posted Monday, Apr. 01, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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KAUFMAN - Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife both were shot multiple times at 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 fatally shot two months after Kaufman assistant district attorney Mark Hasse, 57, was gunned down while walking to work at the Kaufman County Courthouse. Investigators thus far 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' cell phone 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, written by Texas Ranger Eric Kasper. 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," Kasper wrote. "Kaufman County Sheriff's Office personnel also observed multiple gunshot wounds on both victims."

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 permanent successor.

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

McLelland's office was part of a multi-agency task force that helped bring indictments last fall against 34 alleged members, including senior leaders, of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas gang, which the Justice Department described as extremely violent.

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

Alleged members of the ABT, a whites-only prison-based gang, were also 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, added that the gang has a history of threatening officials and of killing its own member or rivals.

In Kaufman, a city of 6,800 about 70 miles east of Fort Worth, residents and business owners tried to adjust to the spate of violence, which has drawn international headlines and sparked fears of continued attacks.

Glenda Rand, who owns Daisy's clothing store on the courthouse square, said she saw the police cars race past on the Jan. 31 morning that 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 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 a late lunch or returned from the courthouse annex with stacks of documents.

Rand, who was born on the courthouse square in 1948, in a small hospital above a drug store, 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."

Rand also worries about the long-term impact on Kaufman's historic courthouse square.

City leaders had already begun talking about the possibility of moving the courts out of the courthouse because a lack of space. Rand believes that now, security concerns will drive the decision.

"I used to worry about what impact it would have on businesses on the square, but I don't anymore," she said. "None of that really matters when you have two people shot. Making sure they're safe is all that matters."

At Carrera's Mexican restaurant, several blocks from the square, owner Ismael Carrera said he has always felt Kaufman was a refuge from big-city crime.

"I live in Pleasant Grove," Carrera said. "That is where the crime is. That is where someone would break into my son's car and steal his Iraq war medals. Here I feel safe."

Carrera said that deputies often visit his restaurant and that he knows many of them on a first-name basis. McLelland, 63, even dropped in occasionally, wearing his trademark cowboy hat.

"He was a nice man," Carrera said. "I felt like I owe them for keeping this place safe."

But like Rand, Carrera is at a loss to explain the killings.

"Who would come into this town and do this?" he said.

This report contains material from The Associated Press.

Bill Hanna, (817) 390-7698

Twitter: @fwhanna

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