A Texas prosecutor who was heavily involvedÂ in the investigation of members of the Aryan Brotherhood was shot dead onÂ Thursday morning as he walked from his car to his county courtroomÂ office.
Officials identified the victim as Kaufman County assistant districtÂ attorney Mark Hasse. The 57-year-old wasÂ assaulted and shot multiple times by at least one gunman, policeÂ said.
The apparent assassination took place atÂ around 8:50 a.m. in a parking lot near the courthouse where Hasse worked as aÂ felony prosecutor who headed murder and drug cases.
Kaufman County Sheriff David Byrnes said heÂ had never seen such a case in his four decade career.
‘I’ve been doing this 43 years and I haveÂ never experienced anything like this before,’ he told reporters at a ThursdayÂ afternoon news conference.
Hasse was rushed to hospital where he died of his injuries.Â He was unmarried and had no children.
Witnesses told police they saw two suspectsÂ flee the scene in an older, silverÂ Ford Taurus. However, the number of suspectsÂ had not been verified.
Kaufman Chief of Police Chris Aulbaugh saidÂ the shooting appeared to be targeted at Hasse for a number of reasons. ‘The factÂ it was not an ongoing rampage, it was one individual being shot and then (theÂ gunmen) leaving the scene,’ he said. ‘It was a very small, very shortÂ confrontation.’
The suspects were of unknown race but wereÂ reportedly wearing all black, with one or both of them wearing a tactical-typeÂ vest. Some reports claim they were wearing masks.
widespread manhunt is underway forÂ theÂ culprits with the help of police and sheriff’sÂ departments from across theÂ county. ‘Every police department in the county is involved,’ county spokesmanÂ Pat Laney said.
No arrests have been announced but the DallasÂ County District Attorney’s Office reportedly told the DallasÂ NewsÂ that a suspect had been arrested in the case.
‘I can’t overstep the bounds ofÂ KaufmanÂ County,’ the news website quoted DA Craig Watkins as saying onÂ ThursdayÂ afternoon. ‘All I can tell you is that there was an arrest.’
The initial $10,000 reward forÂ informationÂ leading to the arrest of the gunmen has been doubled toÂ $20,000 after a localÂ business offered to match the cash offered byÂ Kaufman CountyÂ Crimestoppers.
Investigators are searching through Hasse‘s case files, trying to identify any potential enemies he may have had,Â including any members of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas gang.
The Dallas News reportedÂ that Hasse Â had been heavily involved in the investigation of members of the AryanÂ Brotherhood.
Shortly after the prosecutor was shot andÂ killed, the Department of Justice put out a statement crediting the KaufmanÂ County District Attorney’s Office with helping in the investigation of two knownÂ members of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas gang.
The gang members pleaded guilty today toÂ racketeering charges, after Hasse’s shooting.
The release states that Ben Christian Dillon,Â aka ‘Tuff’, of Houston, and James Marshall Meldrum, aka ‘Dirty’ both ‘agreed toÂ commit multiple acts of murder, robbery, arson,Â kidnapping and narcoticsÂ tracking’ for the Aryan Brotherhood.
Kaufman County DA Mike McLelland said in anÂ afternoon news conference that the county had suffered aÂ ‘devastating loss’Â today. However, he said Hasse had been fully aware of theÂ dangers of his jobÂ and ‘accepted them readily’.
‘When you deal with bad people on aÂ regularÂ basis, you know there’s the potential for these bad people to do something badÂ to you because they have done bad things to otherÂ people,’ he toldÂ reporters.
Though he said HasseÂ didn’t have any activeÂ cases dealing with the Aryan Brotherhood.
McLelland said his team of 13 prosecutorsÂ were mourning the shock death of theirÂ colleague. ‘(We’re) a family not just anÂ office,’ he said. ‘And trust me the entire office took this very, very badly.
‘Mark was an absolutely stellar prosecutorÂ and good friend.’
The DA appealed to anyone who had anyÂ information to come forward.Â ‘Anything you folks can do to help us get ourÂ hands on this scum wouldÂ be appreciated,’ he said.
Sheriff Byrnes said the courthouse hadÂ surveillance cameras but they wereÂ directed at the buildings not the parkingÂ lot so didn’t capture theÂ shooting or the suspects as they made their getaway.
He said his office was beefing up securityÂ for Hasse’s colleagues.
‘We will have a uniformed officer in theÂ parking lot for the foreseeable future ,’ he said.
McLelland added that the walk to theÂ courthouse would be ‘humbling… unhappy’ now his friend was gone.