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Security Upped At Texas Courthouse After DA Killed

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And let's return to this country. A community near Dallas is trying to understand why two prosecutors have been gunned down within the span of two months. The latest was over the weekend. The district attorney of Kaufman County, Texas and his wife were fatally shot in their home. Here's Bill Zeeble from member station KERA.

BILL ZEEBLE, BYLINE: Kaufman County Sheriff David Byrnes was brief and offered few details about the death of DA Mike McClellan and his wife Cynthia. He says his office got a call a little after 6 p.m. Saturday, mentioning suspicious people in McClellan's neighborhood near Forney, Texas. That's about 30 miles southeast of Dallas. When the sheriffs got there, they found the DA and his wife shot dead. Just two months ago, county prosecutor Mark Hasse was gunned down on his way to work.

SHERIFF DAVID BYRNES: It's unnerving to the law enforcement community. It's unnerving to the community at large. And that's why we're striving to, you know, assure the community that we are still providing public safety and will be able to do that.

ZEEBLE: Byrnes was not ready to tie the Kaufman County deaths together. But lifelong Kaufman resident Betty Bryant believes there's some connection.

BETTY BRYANT: I'm sure it's organized. It has to be organized for them to disappear like they do. So they know what they're doing, and they know who they want. I think it's for the officials.

ZEEBLE: So Bryant's not worried for her own safety, but Courtney Godwin is, to some degree. Like Bryant, she was at a private Easter gathering near Kaufman's town square.

COURTNEY GODWIN: I mean, there's always going to be - always going to kind of live in fear, but it's not fair that anyone has to live in fear in this community now.

ZEEBLE: Godwin stood very near the site two months ago where county attorney Mark Hasse was shot.

GODWIN: I'm not saying that I'm actually worried about myself every day, but I do know a lot of people that work in the courthouse. I'm concerned for them. You never know what can happen now. I mean, that was just shocking.

ZEEBLE: Sheriff Byrnes says numerous local, state and federal officials - including the ATF and FBI - are actively involved in this investigation. For NPR News, I'm Bill Zeeble in Dallas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues. Heâââ