Texas law enforcement is on high alert following last weekend’s slaying of District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, as officials speculate whether a white supremacist gang may have been behind the attack.
The group, known as the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, was already under scrutiny for the murder of another Texas prosecutor—Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse—who was shot gangland-style near the Kaufman County Courthouse two months ago. The connection between the two murders, said Kaufman County Judge Bruce Wood, is “obvious.”
“This was not just a random act,” said Wood in a news conference Monday morning. “It seems to me there has to be some connection.”
McLelland, a 63-year-old U.S. Army veteran, and his 65-year-old wife Cynthia were discovered with fatal gunshot wounds at their home near Forney, Texas, on Saturday evening. Judge Wood told Reuters that the last known contact with the McLellands was about 7 p.m. on Friday. The double-homicide is the subject of a joint investigation by the Kaufman County Sheriff’s Office, the Texas Rangers, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The Kaufman County district attorney’s office was part of a multi-agency task force credited with bringing federal racketeering indictments to 34 alleged Aryan Brotherhood members last fall, including to four top bosses. In December, the Texas Department of Public Safety warned that the gang could be “planning retaliation against law enforcement officials.”
“It seems to me that a scenario may be developing that the district attorney’s office was investigating this gang, or another gang, and they wanted to prevent that investigation,” said Texas Congressman Ted Poe, to CNN. “Therefore, they resort to violence.”
McLelland was among those who believed the gang could have been behind the killing of Hasse, who was shot the same day that two members of the Aryan Brotherhood pleaded guilty to racketeering charges in Federal District Court. To those responsible for Hasse’s death, McLelland had a warning: “I hope that the people that did this are watching, because we are very confident that we are going to find you, pull you out of whatever hole you’re in, bring you back and let the people of Kaufman County prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.”
Investigators have not publicly named suspects in either case, nor have they found physical evidence directly linking the murders, said Judge Wood. But sources close to the investigation say authorities will pursue any possible connection between the murders and the white supremacist organization.
“Our prayers are with the McLelland family, their friends and the people of Kaufman County as they try to make sense of this tragic situation,” said Texas Gov. Rick Perry in a statement. “My office has begun the process to find a replacement for DA McLelland, and I will make an appointment as soon as possible.”