District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife Cynthia were found shot to death in their home Saturday, just two months after the county's assistant DA, Mark Hasse, was gunned down outside the courthouse. NBC's Gabe Gutierrez reports.
A Texas district attorney was shot at 20 times and his wife, Cynthia, was shot once when they were gunned down in their home on Saturday, a federal source with knowledge of the investigation told NBC News.
The source didn't say exactly how many times the man was hit. An earlier affidavit in the case said both of the victims sustained multiple gunshot wounds. The reason for the discrepancy was unclear.
The slayings of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife have rocked the the small town of Kaufman on the eastern outskirts of Dallas.
The brazen attack on the justice official comes weeks after Colorado's prison director, Tom Clements, was shot to death at his home, with a paroled white supremacist ex-con killed in a Texas shootout the main suspect.
The deaths also came less than three months after McLelland had publicly vowed to track down the killer of Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse, who was shot dead midday Jan. 31 in the middle of Kaufman's town square.
In a search warrant affidavit, deputies told an investigator they saw cartridge casings inside the residence near the two bodies during a protective sweep of the home. Sheriff’s office personnel observed multiple gunshot wounds, the statement said.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram first reported on the affidavit’s contents on Tuesday; the document was also reviewed by Reuters.
The Kaufman County sheriff was expected to release an update on the case on Tuesday. A scheduled Tuesday morning news briefing was canceled, and reporters were told the next update would be done via a news release.
Law enforcement officials have been tight-lipped about the investigation into the double murder.
No connection has been revealed to the Hasse killing, in which no bullet casings were found and no suspects have been named.
County Judge Bruce Wood, however, said Monday he believes the fatal shootings of the prosecutors are related.
“This was just not some random act,” he told the Star-Telegram. “It seems to me there has to be some connection.”
Federal prosecutors told NBC News they are working on different theories on who might be responsible for the double slaying. One is the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, a white supremacist jail gang. Dozens of its members were charged with crimes in a multiagency investigation that included McLelland's office. Other officials have played down that angle.
Other theories being investigated are drug cartels and a lone gunman with a grudge. Still, a federal source told NBC News there is no clear theory that stands out to explain the apparent assassinations, and no direct link with any groups has been reported.
Assistant District Attorney Brandi Fernandez on Monday was named to take over for McLelland and will hold the district attorney job for 21 days or until Gov. Rick Perry appoints a successor.
Meanwhile, hundreds of law enforcement professionals — including the FBI and the Texas Rangers — are working on the case.
Judges and prosecutors arrived at the county courthouse under heavy protection Tuesday morning, flanked by armed guards.
“I think everyone is sad over this,” County Judge David Lewis, a friend of McLelland who attended the same church, told NBCDFW.com. When asked if there were a sense of fear, he said, "Sure. Yeah.… We’re going to keep going on, and we’re going to do the best we can.”
Though police have so far given few answers, there was optimism at the courthouse that the crime would be solved.
"I am confident they will find whoever committed this crime," Wood said.
A public memorial service for the McLellands was scheduled for Thursday at First Baptist Church of Sunnyvale in Mesquite. The couple will be buried in Mike McLelland's hometown of Wortham.
Reuters contributed to this report.
This story was originally published on Tue Apr 2, 2013 3:05 PM EDT