News Column

Law Enforcement Officials Murdered Amid Gun Debate

April 3, 2013

A district attorney in Texas has become the third top law enforcement official shot dead in the US within the last two months amid an ongoing debate over the nation's gun laws.

The sheriff of Kaufman County, Texas said Sunday district attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, were found dead Saturday in their home.

Just two months ago McLelland vowed to find the killer of his colleague, assistant district attorney Mark Hasse, who was gunned down execution-style outside of the courthouse in the town of Kaufman, which is about 40 kilometres southeast of Dallas.

After Saturday's shooting news reports said the rural town had been turned into a crime scene as investigators probed possible links between the two cases and between them and a similar murder in Colorado.

Kaufman County Sheriff David Byrnes declined to release any further details about the shooting of McLelland or whether a connection had been established between it and the killing of Hasse.

Hasse had been a longtime felony prosecutor for the Dallas County District Attorney's Office, according to television station WFAA. He and McLelland worked closely on many cases, CNN reported.

Authorities also were searching for any link between the Texas killings and the murder of Tom Clements, Colorado's prison director, near Denver on March 20.

The Colorado man implicated in Clements' murder, Evan Ebel, was killed in a shootout with police in Texas two days after Clements was killed. Police said the gun found on Ebel, 28, was the same one used to kill Clements. They are trying to determine whether any other suspects acted with Ebel in the murder.

Byrnes said he had no information about a report that a white supremacist group was involved. Ebel reportedly served jail time in Colorado and was linked to a white supremacist group there.

The investigation is being conducted amid a nationwide debate on gun control. US President Barack Obama on Thursday urged lawmakers to take serious action against gun violence, citing the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut in December.

Congress currently is considering a bill that would institute background checks on all gun purchases and punish those who buy weapons with the intention of turning them over to criminals.

Obama also reiterated his calls for a ban on assault weapons, which is not included in the main legislation to be considered by Congress. He called on Americans to remember the shooting that left 20 children and six teachers dead just over three months ago, saying the tragedy should be turned into action.

Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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