By Rick Dandes
The Daily Item
SUNBURY — The slayings of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife on Saturday raised concerns about the safety of public officials — not just in Texas, but around the nation.
McLelland, 63, was the 13th prosecutor killed in the United States since the National Association of District Attorneys began keeping count in the 1960s. Even worse, the number of attacks on prosecutors, judges and senior law enforcement officers in the country has spiked in the past three years, according to Glenn McGovern, an investigator with the Santa Clara County, Calif., district attorney’s office who tracks such cases.
“All of us have been threatened at one time or another,” Northumberland County District Attorney Tony Rosini acknowledged Monday. “There are people out there who hold grudges.”
Addressing the killings in Texas, Rosini deemed the acts “horrible. These kinds of things, you keep it in the back of your mind. It goes with the territory, so you go on with your job.”
But he also said it’s important to know where you are at all times, to note carefully who is around you and, in general, to be watchful.
Union County District Attorney D. Peter Johnson was in court and wasn’t available for comment Monday. Snyder County District Attorney Michael Piecuch said he had no comment.
The Texas killings came less than two weeks after Colorado’s prison chief was shot to death at his front door, apparently by an ex-convict.
Colorado’s corrections director, Tom Clements, was killed March 19 when he answered the doorbell at his home outside Colorado Springs. Evan Spencer Ebel, a former Colorado inmate suspected of shooting Clements, died in a shootout with Texas deputies two days later about 100 miles from Kaufman County.
Meanwhile, law enforcement agencies throughout Texas are on high alert, and steps are being taken to better protect other DAs and their staffs.
In Harris County, which includes the city of Houston, District Attorney Mike Anderson said he accepted the sheriff’s offer of 24-hour security for him and his family. Anderson said he also would take precautions at his office, the largest of its kind in Texas with more than 270 prosecutors.
“I think district attorneys across Texas are still in a state of shock,” Anderson said Sunday.