April 1, 2013. Dallas. If you’ve noticed a spike in news stories over the past couple weeks detailing the murders of government officials, you aren’t alone. Whether it’s the bizarre murder of a state official in Colorado two weeks ago or the mysterious double murder of a Texas District Attorney and his wife last week, the incidents are becoming more and more common. In response, one Texas county is moving to protect all its elected officials.
Texas DA Mike McLelland, pictured in hat in Jan. press conference after the murder of his Asst. DA. Last week, McLelland was also murdered. Image courtesy of UK Daily Mail/ABC News.
Something about Texas
In the first three months of 2013, Texas found itself on the front line of an epidemic of murder targeting government authorities. In January, Texas Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse was shot and killed while exiting his vehicle outside the courthouse where he worked.
In March, the head of the Colorado Department of Corrections was gunned down when he opened the front door of his home in Monument, Colorado. Two weeks ago, the suspect in that slaying was shot and killed by Texas police in a high-speed, running gun battle. Authorities haven’t said why they believe the suspect was in the Lone Star State.
Last week, the bodies of Texas District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife were discovered shot to death inside their home in Kaufman County, Texas. The front door of their home was reportedly forced open, but Kaufman County Sheriff’s spokesman Justin Lewis told reporters, “We’re in the very preliminary stages in the investigation. Right now, it’s a death investigation.” County Sheriff David Byrnes escalated the incident with an Easter Sunday press conference in which he announced, “We are taking precautions to protect elected officials in the county.”
Reasons for spike in attacks
The mysterious twist in the above incident – Mike McLelland, the DA just shot dead along with his wife, was the boss of Mark Hasse, the assistant DA shot and killed two months earlier outside the Kaufman County courthouse. So far, authorities are reportedly targeting two white prison gangs in all three of the above high-profile incidents.
Evan Ebel, shot and killed by Texas authorities two weeks ago, is believed to be the killer of Colorado Prisons Director Tom Clements. He is also alleged to be a member of the white prison gang based in Colorado called the 211’s. After the ambush-style murder of assistant DA Hasse on January 31 in Kaufman County, District Attorney Mike McLelland told numerous media outlets that his investigation was concentrating on another white prison gang, this one called the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas.
Prison gangs seeking revenge against authorities aren’t the only ones killing government officials. In some cases, the authorities are even killing each other. In one instance in February 2012, two federal agents were gunned down inside the Long Beach, California office of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. While the government isn’t releasing any details, media reports have described an incident in which a Latino ICE agent requested transfer out of the Los Angeles region and was denied. The agent then allegedly opened fire on his supervisor, killing him. A fellow ICE agent then shot and killed the Latino agent.
Numbers doubling each year
With high-profile government murders in the headlines every day lately, CBS News talked to Glenn McGovern, an investigator in the Santa Clara County, California District Attorney’s office. McGovern told the network that the homicide of Colorado prisons director Tom Clements was the fifth incident of murder or attempted murder of a government official just in the first three months of 2013. Little did McGovern know, the count wasn’t done yet. Texas DA Mike McLelland would be government official number six.
McGovern says that between 2000 and 2009, there was an average of 4 incidents per year in which a government official was the victim of murder or a similar premeditated attack. Between 2010 and 2012, there were 35 incidents, or 12 per year. And just in the first three months of 2013, there were at least six incidents. That projects to 24 murders or attempted murders of government authorities this year. From 4 per year to 24 per year in one decade.
“It’s very worrisom,” McGovern told CBS. Commenting on the idea of providing round the clock protection to all government officials at all levels, he said, “No government agency besides maybe the Secret Service provides 24-hour protection. We can’t do that.”