• 54°

Suspicion in DA death shifts to white supremacists

KAUFMAN, Texas (AP) — Two days after a Texas district attorney and his wife were found shot to death in their home, authorities have said little about their investigation or any potential suspects.
But suspicion in the slayings shifted Monday to a white supremacist prison gang with a long history of violence and retribution that was also the focus of a December law enforcement bulletin warning that its members might try to attack police or prosecutors.
The deaths of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife were especially jarring because they happened just a couple of months after one of the county’s assistant district attorneys, Mark Hasse, was killed near his courthouse office and less than two weeks after Colorado’s prison chief was shot to death at his front door, apparently by a white supremacist ex-convict.
The Aryan Brotherhood of Texas has been in the state’s prison system since the 1980s, when it began as a white supremacist gang that protected its members and ran illegal activities, including drug distribution, according to Terry Pelz, a former Texas prison warden and expert on the gang.
The group is now believed to have more than 4,000 members in and out of prison who deal in a variety of criminal enterprises, including prostitution, robbery and murder.
It has a paramilitary structure with five factions around the state, Pelz said. Each faction has a general, who is part of a steering committee known as the “Wheel,” which controls all criminal aspects of the gang, according to court papers.
Four top leaders of the group were indicted in October for crimes ranging from murder to drug trafficking. Two months later, authorities issued the bulletin warning that the gang might try to retaliate against law enforcement for the investigation that also led to the arrest of 30 other members.
At the time, prosecutors called the indictments “a devastating blow to the leadership” of the gang. Pelz said the indictments might have fragmented the gang’s leadership.
Hasse’s Jan. 31 death came on the same day as the first guilty pleas were entered in the indictment. No arrests have been made in his killing.
McLelland was part of a multi-agency task force that investigated the Aryan Brotherhood with help from the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration and police in Houston and Fort Worth.
Detectives have declined to say if the Aryan Brotherhood is the focus of their investigation, but the state Department of Public Safety bulletin warned that the group is “involved in issuing orders to inflict ‘mass casualties or death’ to law enforcement officials involved in the recent case.”
Killing law enforcement representatives would be uncharacteristic of the group, Pelz said.
“They don’t go around killing officials,” he said. “They don’t draw heat upon themselves.”
But Pelz, who worked in the Texas prison system for 21 years, said the gang has a history of threatening officials and of killing its own members or rivals.
The 18-count indictment accused gang members of being involved in three murders of rival gang members, multiple attempted murders, kidnappings, assaults and conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and cocaine.
Some of the attempted murders in the indictment involved gang members who were targeted for not following orders or rules or who were believed to be cooperating with law enforcement. The indictment also alleges that gang members discussed killing a police officer in 2008 and allegedly ordered a subordinate gang member to kill a prospect “and to return the victim’s severed finger as a trophy.”
Meanwhile, law enforcement agencies throughout Texas were on high alert, and steps were being taken to better protect DAs and their staffs.
In Kaufman County, deputies escorted some employees into the courthouse Monday after the slayings stirred fears that other public employees could be targeted. Law enforcement officers were seen patrolling outside the courthouse, one holding a semi-automatic weapon, while others walked around inside.
McLelland was the 13th prosecutor killed in the U.S. since the National Association of District Attorneys began keeping count in the 1960s.
Deputies were called to the McLelland home by relatives and friends who had been unable to reach the pair, according to a search warrant affidavit.
When they arrived, investigators found the couple had been shot multiple times. Cartridge casings were scattered near their bodies, the affidavit said.
Authorities have not discussed a motive.

Comments

Comments closed.

Ask Us

Ask Us: How can homebound seniors be vaccinated?

Local

Political Notebook: Interim health director to talk COVID-19 at county Democrats breakfast

Local

‘Their names liveth forevermore:’ Officials dedicate Fire Station No. 6 to fallen firefighters Monroe, Isler

Crime

Blotter: Salisbury man charged for breaking into Salisbury high, getting juvenile to help

Nation/World

With virus aid in sight, Democrats debate filibuster changes

Local

City officials differ on how, what information should be released regarding viral K-9 officer video

High School

High school basketball: Carson girls are 3A champions

Lifestyle

High school, college sweethearts marry nearly 50 years later

Local

With jury trials set to resume, impact of COVID-19 on process looms

Legion baseball

Book explores life of Pfeiffer baseball coach Joe Ferebee

Education

Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education to receive update on competency-based education

Business

Biz Roundup: Kannapolis expects to see economic, housing growth continue in 2021

Business

A fixture of downtown Salisbury’s shopping scene, Caniche celebrates 15th anniversary this month

Local

Slate of new officers during local GOP convention; Rev. Jenkins becomes new chair

Landis

Landis officials narrow search for new manager to five candidates; expect decision within a month

Lifestyle

Together at last: High school, college sweethearts marry nearly 50 years later

Education

Rowan-Salisbury Schools sorts out transportation logistics in preparation for full-time return to classes

High School

Photo gallery: Carson goes undefeated, wins 3A state championship

Nation/World

Europe staggers as infectious variants power virus surge

Nation/World

Biden, Democrats prevail as Senate OKs $1.9 trillion virus relief bill

Nation/World

Senate Democrats strike deal on jobless aid, move relief bill closer to approval

News

Duke Life Flight pilot may have shut down wrong engine in fatal crash

News

Two NC counties get to participate in satellite internet pilot for students

Local

PETA protesters gather in front of police department