KAUFMAN, Texas – An assistant district attorney was shot and killed Thursday morning near the North Texas county courthouse where he worked, and authorities said they were searching for two suspects.
Mark Hasse, 57, had exited his vehicle in the parking lot behind the Kaufman County Courthouse annex and was walking toward the building when he was shot multiple times just before 9 a.m., said Kaufman County spokeswoman Pat Laney. Hasse was taken away in an ambulance, but Laney did not know if he died at the hospital or en route.
Investigators were searching for two suspects believed to have fled in an older model Ford Taurus either brown or silver in color. Officials didn't immediately indicate any motive for the shooting in Kaufman, located about 33 miles southeast of Dallas.
Kaufman Independent School District Superintendent Todd Williams said all schools in the district were placed on lockdown as authorities searched for the suspects, and officials eventually decided to close the buildings for the day.
Local law enforcement officials decried the shooting as an attack on the criminal justice system.
"We understand that we may come into contact with violent people but this is the next level," Kaufman County Sheriff David Byrnes said Thursday at a news conference.
Kaufman Police Chief Chris Aulbaugh said the shooting would have a major impact on the town and the county.
"Any loss of life, especially someone out there protecting the community, would have that effect," he said.
Calls to the district attorney's office Thursday were not immediately returned.
Investigators gathered in a parking lot adjacent to the annex where the prosecutor was shot. Yellow tape and law enforcement vehicles blocked the area from spectators. Laney said a $10,000 reward was being offered.
"It's going to take a long time to get over this," said Wayne Gent, an attorney whose law office is on the courthouse square. "And the thing is, everybody's vulnerable."
Gent, who previously served as Kaufman County judge, said when he was in that role he had a security system installed at the courthouse to prevent an armed person from bursting in. But no system could prevent a shooting that occurs outside, adding another level of fear, he said.
"How do you protect against that?" he asked.
Carolyn Mikeal, who works at an insurance agency on the square, said the shooting is a stunning development for the usually quiet community.
"It's just a shock," she said. "A small county like this, it's the last thing you expect to happen."