Commentary: Standing up is the right thing to do
When Kaufman County Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse was gunned down while walking to work on January 31, 2013, it sent shock waves through the small Texas county that I call home. With just over 105,000 people in the entire county, it often feels like we all know each other. It is a great county, not without its problems, but still, a place most of us felt safe.
Many people around here knew Mark Hasse and thought very highly of the tough prosecutor. His boss, District Attorney Mike McLelland, spoke at a press conference after Mark’s death, and he referred to the murderer or murderers as “scum.” Mike was right in his assessment of those responsible for killing ADA Hasse, and I applauded him for saying it. Now Mike McLelland is dead. He and his 65 year-old wife Cynthia, a woman described as sweet and soft spoken, were killed in their Kaufman County home in Forney, Texas, just two months after Mark Hasse. Like ADA Hasse, they were shot to death, though the caliber of gun used in the Hasse murder was different than the rifle that was used against the McLellands.
Once again, shock and disbelief have shaken this tight-knit community to its core. None of us can understand how this could have happened not once, but twice. How our determined district attorney who was set on finding Mark’s murderer, could himself become a victim. Who would go to his home on Easter weekend and repeatedly shoot him and his wife? What kind of coward would do such a heinous thing? There are many questions in Kaufman County, and there are just as many theories. Was it the Aryan Brothers of Texas, the Mexican drug cartel, or maybe a disgruntled former Kaufman County employee who was prosecuted for stealing from our county?
Unfortunately there are many more questions than answers. Unfortunately Kaufman County has again been thrust into the national spotlight for a horrible crime. Unfortunately the killer or killers are still running free. That last fact has many people around here scared, not knowing who might be targeted next. Being scared is not what Mike McLelland wanted for this community, not what he wanted for the people going to work every day at the courthouse. He wanted justice for Mark, but he did not live long enough to see it happen. Now it is up to us to get that justice for Mark, for Mike, for Cynthia, and for their families, friends, co-workers, and community.
Mike McLelland’s step-daughter Christina spoke with force and conviction at the public memorial for her parents. She implored people to not be afraid to stand up. Stand up for what is right, stand up for Mark, Mike, and Cynthia, stand up to the coward or cowards who are responsible for these crimes. Stand up for justice. Christina is right, if we don’t stand up, if we cower or run away in the face of our fear, then the bad guys win. It is natural to feel fear after these devastating crimes against good people, people who represented lawfulness in our county, but we cannot let that fear force us into hiding. We should all pay attention to our surroundings, and by all means take precautions, but do not back down, not now or ever. To do so disrespects the memories of three of Kaufman County’s finest citizens.
There is a $200,000 reward available through Kaufman County Crime Stoppers for any information that leads to the arrest or grand jury indictment of the killer or killers of Mark Hasse, Mike McLelland, and Cynthia McLelland. Investigators are working around the clock to make an arrest in these cases, but they need help. They need people who may know something about the crimes, no matter how small the information is, to call the Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-877-847-7522 and tell them what you know. Stand up for these people who stood up for years against criminals and who stood up for all of us.