The Kaufman County Courthouse is partially back open for business on Friday, but it’s hardly business as usual as employees return to work without one of their own.
The loss of Assistand District Attorney Mark Hasse, who was shot and killed Thursday walking toward the courthouse, has brought a mix of sadness for workers as well as a heightened state of security with the assistant district attorney's killer still out there.
The county is trying to reassure employees they aren’t in danger.
“Unfortunately, I think there’s a lot of other people here who are going to feel unsafe,” said Criminal Defense Attorney Eric Smenner, who has been friends with Hasse for years.
Deputies have stepped up their presence in the parking lots surrounding the Kaufman County Courthouse, as well as inside of the building, trying to reassure employees that their workplace is safe. That’s not an easy task after a shooter gunned down Hasse Thursday morning as he headed into work.
A day later, officers escorted employees back to work at the annex where the crime tape remains.
“How do you get up from a blow like that? That guy was friends with everybody,” said Smenner. “The DA’s office is going to be closed today. There won’t be any business down here today.”
The door is locked at the District Attorney’s office where Hasse worked. The criminal courtrooms are dark. Deputies posted signs on the front doors notifying people that Friday’s hearings are cancelled.
Civil cases will continue and about six employees in the District Clerk’s office are working.
“I was scared,” said Jerry Hart, who was worired about going to the courthouse to file divorce paperwork after the shooting. She noticed hardly anyone was in the courthouse, except for the increased security.
“They stepped up their game. I know they did today. They’re everywhere. Maybe a little too quiet. It’s almost eerie,” said Hart.
The sheriff said increased security will be in place as long as it takes to get back to normal -– whatever that may be. He plans to review security practices next week.
Right now, prosecutors are helping investigators go through Hasse's cases and aren’t saying when the District Attorney’s office will reopen.
A reward of $64,500 from Kaufman County Crime Stoppers and other sources is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the gunman.
Anyone with information is asked to call Kaufman County Crime Stoppers at 1-877-TIPS-KCC. As always, tipsters may remain anonymous.