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Kaufman County On Edge After Shootings

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Jack Fink
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KAUFMAN (CBSDFW.COM) - Joe Caldwell said that he retired to the Kaufman County community near Forney to be in the country. But all that peace and quiet was shattered just one street over this weekend after investigators found Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife shot to death in their house. “I was really shocked and surprised and saddened to hear about that,” Caldwell said.

You can see the yellow crime scene tape at McLelland’s house from Caldwell’s street. No other neighbors wanted to talk about what happened — the news is too unsettling. “Keeping my doors locked and guns loaded,” the frightened neighbor said.

Like so many, Kaufman resident Martin Coy is shaken that the McLelland murders came about two months after Kaufman County Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse was gunned down in a parking lot close to his office at the county courthouse. That case remains unsolved. “Total shock,” said Coy. “It’s unbelievable. Everyone is on edge here.”

Aside from being on edge, residents said that they are concerned about the safety of those who work at the Kaufman County Courthouse, especially those in the District Attorney’s Office. “It’s a small town, but these are big problems,” said Kaufman resident Jeff Durfee. “We’re afraid for the rest of the people working here, and hopefully they’ll find answers.”

Kaufman County Sheriff David Byrnes said that there will be increased and visible security at the courthouse on Monday. However, while he sought to reassure public safety, people in the county remain worried that the killer or killers may strike again. Coy said, “I just wish they would stop doing this to our town.”

Nearly a dozen people gathered Sunday night at the Kaufman County Courthouse for an impromptu prayer vigil, organized by Kemp Mayor Donald Kile. He said that he felt compelled to hold the vigil after hearing that his friend was murdered.

Kile said that McLelland took precautions after Hasse’s death, but he was not in fear of his life. “He told me on several occasions he was not going to back down, no matter what,” Kile said. “He was going to do what needed to be done justice-wise and bring it to justice. He was not scared.”

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