Dallas County to Beef Up Security After New Kaufman Murders - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

In-depth coverage of the shootings in Kaufman County

Dallas County to Beef Up Security After New Kaufman Murders

County to implement better protection for district attorney, safer parking arrangements for all prosecutors



    Dallas County is adding security for all prosecutors in the wake of the shooting deaths of Kaufman County's district attorney and assistant district attorney. (Published Monday, April 1, 2013)

    Dallas County officials confirmed Monday they will add new security precautions after the slaying of the Kaufman County district attorney and his wife.

    Mike and Cynthia McLelland were found dead in their Forney home on Saturday.

    "I'm dumbfounded," said First Assistant Dallas County District Attorney Heath Harris. "I can't believe that the Kaufman County district attorney and his wife are dead. I can't believe it. I can't believe that someone would have that kind of audacity to commit that type of offense."

    The killings come two months after Mark Hasse, a Kaufman County assistant district attorney, was gunned down outside the county courthouse.

    "All prosecutors are now going to have to question what we do," Harris said.

    Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins, the first black person in Texas to be elected to that position, has reported receiving anonymous threats since taking office seven years ago.

    He suggested security improvements for himself after Hasse's slaying but Sunday, County Judge Clay Jenkins, Sheriff Lupe Valdez and other county officials began planning immediate improvements.

    The Dallas County changes will include better protection for Watkins, safer parking arrangements for all prosecutors and other measures that officials declined to reveal.

    Harris said Dallas County prosecutors are already encouraged to become licensed to carry a concealed handgun.

    "Nothing that's happened in Kaufman County or anywhere else is going to prevent us from doing our jobs," Harris said.

    A.J. Irwin, a security expert with Yarbrough Strategic Advisors and former federal agent who worked on the Oklahoma City bombing case, said prosecutors should also be cautious in their daily routine.

    "For instance, don't take the same route to work," he said. "Don't establish a routine where someone who may be watching you or casing you can figure out those patterns and take an opportunity to hurt you."

    Irwin said the team of agencies working on the Kaufman County cases would consider insiders who might have better access to the victims, as well as organized criminal groups that might have a motive to kill prosecutors.

    "The thing that strikes me is there seems to be a pattern," he said. "Typically, murders are violent, but they're not so brazen."

    Oliver "Buck" Revell, former Dallas FBI special agent in charge, said public officials should be concerned about the Kaufman County slayings.

    "If law enforcement can't do its job, then the citizens are at further risk," he said.

    Revell said he believes the killings are the work of an organized group.

    "These occurred within a very short period of time within the same office, a very small office which had been going after the organized criminal element, particularly the meth traffickers, and the DA had been very outspoken," he said.

    Revell said investigators would not rest until arrests are made in the killings targeting law enforcement.

    "Every available tool will be used," he said. "These guys aren't going to get away with it."