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Task force on the hunt for Alvarado clerk's killer

Members of a multi-agency task force and a Texas Ranger are trying to develop leads in the shooting Wednesday of an Alvarado store clerk who died late Thursday at a Fort Worth hospital.

Karen Burke died at 11:04 p.m. Thursday at John Peter Smith Hospital, according to the Tarrant County medical examiner's office.

Burke, 52, of Alvarado was shot early Wednesday while mopping the floor at the Shell Travel Center off Interstate 35W in Alvarado, police said.

The robber, whose features were concealed by a dark hooded sweatshirt, followed her through the door to the store after she had gone outside, possibly to empty the mop bucket. And then she was shot.

Charges of capital murder likely will be filed in the case, if the robber is arrested, said Alvarado Police Chief John Allen. Capital murder is punishable by death or life in prison.

"This type of a violent crime doesn't occur in Johnson County, or Cleburne or Alvarado, but (now) it has happened," Allen said. "It was so cold in the manner it took place, it wasn't your conventional stop-and-rob.

"It was done by someone who didn't want a witness."

Investigators from across Johnson County were participating in the investigation Friday, Allen said.

Included were members of the STOP (Stop The Offender Program) task force, which draws help from the various police agencies in Johnson County.

Personnel from the Johnson County Sheriff's Office also are helping, as well as a Texas Ranger, Allen said.

Investigators on Friday planned to comb for possible evidence through a field behind the Shell Travel Center, Allen said.

Meanwhile, he added, other investigators were questioning people who responded to the announcement Thursday that Schepps dairy will pay $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and indictment of the shooter.

An additional $1,000 was offered by Crime Stoppers in Johnson County and the owner of the Shell Travel Center also put up $1,000, Allen said.

Most of the calls so far Friday morning involved reports from people "who know people capable of doing this," Allen said.

"Of course, you also get these bogus-type things, like someone saying 'A guy was asking me for a ski mask,' but he can't tell you who or where," Allen said. "We're hoping to get something beyond mythical and into the factual."

A surveillance video of the robber entering the store was being analyzed Friday by investigators, Allen said. It shows the robber fiddling with the cash register, but he was unable to open it, so he left the scene.

Allen said the robber could be a Johnson County resident or someone who was passing through on the interstate.

"Whoever it was had no regard for any human life here," Allen said. "This is the type of person who would do this again. In the surveillance video, he had one hand on the gun and the other on the cash register. He appeared to be ready."

Anyone with information can call police at 817-783-3344.

Staff writers Lance Murray and Alex Branch contributed to this report.