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KAUFMAN COUNTY (CBS 11 NEWS) - Kaufman County Assistant District Attorney, Mark Hasse was gunned down Thursday morning as he walked to the courthouse where he worked.
Kaufman Police are the lead investigators on the case. They’re looking into preliminary information they received from witnesses who say they saw two suspects, dressed in black, wearing masks and tactical jackets.
However, Kaufman Police Chief, Chris Aulbaugh, said some of that information has yet to be verified.
“We’re not certain it was a tactical vest. We were told it was some kind of jacket or vest. In this temperature, it could be anything. But, we’re following up and considering those things,” he said.
The description of the getaway car is sketchy too.
“We’re told by preliminary witnesses that there was a vehicle, potentially a dark brown, late model Ford, maybe a Taurus, maybe a dark grey,” he said.
Though police are searching for two suspects, there might only be one.
“There was one suspect for sure running from the scene and potentially another seen in another area by a witness. Now, you have to realize people didn’t know what was going on. When they see things, they’re going to give us everything,” said Chief Aulbaugh.
Chief Aulbaugh said they were already looking into the cases Mark Hasse was handling as a felony prosecutor.
“Whenever this kind of thing happens, we absolutely have to look at the cases they were handling,” he said.
The only thing Hasse was going to be handling Thursday was a misdemeanor case.
“So far, we have nothing that rises to the level of concern that this would have been a case we thought this would have been. Nor have we had any threats, recent threats of any kind that would rise to this level,” he said.
Police say the suspect fired at least nine times at Mark Hasse and that Hasse was hit by at least five of those shots.
The killing could be described as brazen, taking place about 10 minutes to nine Thursday morning.
The seven schools in the Kaufman Independent School District were put “lock down” for the day. They were released at their regular time and will go back to school tomorrow at their regularly scheduled hours.
Chief Aulbaugh said, “It does concern us to the level this happened in broad daylight in front of everybody. But, I can assure you, we have quite a few resources with multiple agencies.
Assisting in the investigation: the Kaufman County Sheriff’s Department, state and federal agencies, including the ATF. Local law enforcement agencies in DFW are also on the lookout.
Linda Welden works at Lotts Dry Cleaners across the street from the courthouse. She knew Mark Hasse and heard the shots fired.
“I thought it was a car backfiring. I heard Pow! Pow!” she said.
Welden had been standing at a counter near the front window when she heard the gunfire.
“And there was a lady out front here toward the cars and I looked at her to see what she was doing. And, she was looking down that way. Then, all of a sudden, I heard Pow! Pow! Pow! Then, I saw her look again and she started walking that way. So, I thought okay. What is going on,” Welden said.
It wasn’t too long before she found out, the victim was Mark Hasse.
“I’m sick. I’m sick to my stomach,” she said.
Hasse was a regular at the dry cleaner. Surveillance video from his visit last Friday shows him chatting with employees, something he always did whenever he came in.
Welden said, “He was a wonderful man. A wonderful man.”
Those sentiments were shared by lawyers who worked alongside Hasse when served as a Dallas County prosecutor from 1982 until 1988, including time in a specialized unit.
Attorney and former judge, Randall Isenberg, broke into law with Hasse under DA Henry Wade and described him as an excellent lawyer.
“He was known for taking of difficult hard cases with an aggressive style in prosecution,” said Isenberg.
He was also known by his colleagues for his willingness to lend a hand in difficult situations.
Eric Smenner, a Kaufman defense attorney, worked with Hasse nearly every day and spoke to him just yesterday.
“The guy had a good sense of balance. He knew what a good case was. He was always willing to help out if you needed help with something,” explained Smenner. “Say I needed help with a bond set on somebody, I could go down to the office and say, ‘Mark, I need some help with this,’ and he’d drop whatever he was doing to help me out. I considered him a friend.”
Since 1988, Hasse was a Certified Peace Officer and was known to carry a weapon. He also took training classes since 1990 to help him recognize abused children or sex offenders. In 2010, he was enrolled in classes to learn how police officers investigated cases, how to deal with family violence situations, and what to do in a crisis situation.
His record as a peace officer was clean with no disciplinary action or suspensions on file.
Crimestoppers initially offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case. A local business immediately matched that amount. By 6 p.m. the reward fund stood at $36,000 and was expected to continue growing.
Another press conference is scheduled for Friday morning at 10 a.m.
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