A Texas district attorney and his wife were shot to death in their home in Kaufman County last night, the latest instance in a recent spate of suspicious shootings of law enforcement officials. The deaths of Mike and Cynthia McLelland follow the shooting of a Kaufman County assistant district attorney in January, which stoked suspicions of a conspiracy to target law enforcement officials by a white supremacist group.
The assistant district attorney, Mark Hasse, was killed on the same day the Justice Department released a statement noting the Kaufman County district attorney’s involvement in a racketeering case against the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, a white supremacist group. The FBI had also begun investigating links between Hasse’s slaying and last week’s shooting of Colorado prison chief Tom Clements by a member of another white supremacist group.
The news of McLelland’s death broke shortly before the Sunday morning news shows. CNN’s State of the Union host Candy Crowley asked Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) if there was anything he thought could be done to protect law enforcement officials from the recent spate of violence. Graham said he would support measures within the “local community” to protect law enforcement, but stopped short of endorsing any federal action:
CROWLEY: Just off the top, let me ask you, when we see the death of the head of a prison official, two deaths of a D.A. and an assistant D.A. This is a dangerous business, I know prosecuting bad guys, incarcerating bad guys. Do you think we need to look at the protection of these people?
GRAHAM: Well, anything that would make our law enforcement officers safer. Obviously yes, anything the local community can do to make life safer for those who carry out the law on our behalf, count me in. There’s clearly some kind of criminal vendetta against people who enforce the law.
As a possible conspiracy seems more and more likely, the FBI and ATF have gotten involved in the cases to bolster local investigations, which do not have access to the same resources as federal forces. Crowley then turned the discussion to the Senate’s gun violence prevention package, which Graham said would not pass as long as universal background checks on private gun sales were still included. Currently, criminals are able to evade background checks to purchase firearms at gun shows or from unlicensed dealers.
Sen. Dick Blumenthal (D-CT), a former U.S. attorney, noted that because prosecutors and other law enforcement “face this kind of horror every day,” they strongly support measures curbing illegal gun trafficking and straw purchases like the one that may have enabled the murder of the Colorado prison chief. Thus far in 2013, 12 law enforcement officers have been killed by gunfire.