Are shooting deaths of Texas DAs, Colo. prison chief linked? - KMSP-TV

Are shooting deaths of Texas DAs, Colo. prison chief linked?

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  • Aryan Brotherhood has dangerous history

    Aryan Brotherhood has dangerous history

    Monday, April 1 2013 6:50 PM EDT2013-04-01 22:50:02 GMT
    The Aryan Brotherhood of Texas has been mentioned as a possible group behind the recent slayings of Kaufman County authorities. There's no hard evidence of a connection, but a federal racketeering indictment
    After the indictment of Aryan Brotherhood members last year, there was a warning to law enforcement across Texas: be careful.
  • Security stepped up at Kaufman County offices on Monday

    Security stepped up at Kaufman County offices on Monday

    Monday, April 1 2013 6:01 PM EDT2013-04-01 22:01:31 GMT
    Deputies escorted some Kaufman County employees into the courthouse Monday, two days after the district attorney and his wife were found shot to death in their home in an attack that stirred fears that
    Deputies escorted some Kaufman County employees into the courthouse Monday, two days after the district attorney and his wife were found shot to death in their home.

They dedicated their lives to protect and serve, but a Texas district attorney, his assistant district attorney, and a Colorado prison chief were all shot to death in the last month -- but by whom?

Many are wondering whether the killings are connected, and it's also prompted people in similar roles across the country to start thinking about safety -- especially in Minnesota, where courtroom attacks have happened before.

The shooting up in Cook County changed how many law enforcement officials viewed courthouse security, but what's happening out west may be a different problem altogether.

So far, there is no evidence that the cases are connected -- at least none mentioned publicly; however, no one seems to believe it's a coincidence. Currently, investigators are focusing their attention on a notorious prison gang looking for revenge.

Just 20 miles from Dallas, a local district attorney and his wife, Mike and Cynthia McLelland, were fatally shot inside their home as they were getting ready for bed. The double murder took place just eight weeks after Mike McLelland's assistant district attorney, Mark Hasse, was gunned down in broad daylight in the courthouse square.

After Hasse was killed, Mike McLelland had promised Texas that justice would be served.

"We're very confident we're going to find you," he told the shooter on January 31.

FBI investigators believe both slayings could be connected to the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, a gang that is active inside the state's prisons. Kaufman County prosecutors were instrumental in getting recent federal indictments against members of that gang.

"This appears that it was not a random attack," said Forney Mayor Darren Rosell. "It appears to be targeted."

Shortly after 32 members of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas were indicted, the Texas Department of Public Safety issued a warning that the group hoped to inflict mass casualties on law enforcement involved in the prosecution. In fact, Hasse was killed the very day two members pleaded guilty.

The FBI is also looking to see whether the killing of Colorado Prison Chief Tom Clements could be connected because the suspect in that case, Evan Ebel, was killed in a shootout near Dallas. Ebel reportedly had ties to a white supremacist group in Colorado; however, the sheriff is keeping tight-lipped.

Now, security is being beefed up at courthouses across Texas. A visible police presence is being maintained, but it's unclear when this trial may end and many are wondering who could be targeted next.

In Minnesota, the wake-up call on court security came 16 months ago when Daniel Schlienz opened fire after a jury found him guilty of having sex with a 15-year-old. He shot the Cook County attorney and a witness, but both survived. That incident has led to tighter security statewide -- just like after a similar incident nearly decade earlier in the metro.

The state's largest government building, the Hennepin County Government Center, added metal detectors nine years ago after Susan Berkovitz shot and killed her cousin and injured her attorney in an inheritance dispute.

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