Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Presence of Firearms Did Not Keep Texas DA From Being Assassinated In His Own Home

Texas prosecutor Mike McLelland
A common belief among many Americans seems to be that the possession of firearms somehow makes us secure in a dangerous world. Some have argued that the Newtown massacre in Connecticut might have been averted if teachers had been armed in their classrooms.

Those who hold such beliefs might want to consider the experience of Mike McLelland, who was district attorney of Kaufman County, Texas. I say was because McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, were shot and killed on Saturday by an intruder at their home some 20 miles southeast of Dallas. The slayings came less than two months after one of McLelland's chief assistants, Mark Hasse, was killed by one or more gunmen in the courthouse parking lot.

In the wake of Hasse's murder, McLelland made a number of tough public statements, vowing to apprehend the "scum" who were responsible. McLelland even made it clear that he had taken extra precautions to protect himself. The message that McLelland sent, in so many words, was this: "I am heavily armed, and I am a professional who knows how to use weapons."

Did that help keep him alive? Not exactly. Authorities say McLelland was shot multiple times while wearing his pajamas. Here is how The Dallas Morning News described McLelland's mindset after the Hasse murder:

McLelland himself had said he was taking no chances after Hasse was assassinated.

He said he carried a gun everywhere he went and always took extra care when answering the door of his home.

“I’m ahead of everybody else because, basically, I’m a soldier,” the 23-year Army veteran boasted less than two weeks ago.

How could a heavily armed "soldier," on high alert, wind up being shot to death in his own home? Here are details of the crime scene from The Dallas Morning News:

Investigators said little publicly about the crime or possible suspects. But a law enforcement official, speaking only on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case, called the attacks at the McLellands’ home “brazen.”

The shootings appeared to be premeditated, well-orchestrated and anything but a random burglary that went bad, several law enforcement officials said.

Cynthia McLelland’s body was found near the front door, and it appeared she had answered the door, the officials said. At least two officials said Mike McLelland’s body was found toward the rear of the house. He was dressed in pajamas.

Both were shot more than once, apparently with a large-caliber assault-style rifle. “They found the bodies and a lot of shell casings,” a law enforcement official said.

“It’s a bad deal. This is brazen. It’s revenge. You don’t go in there and do the stuff that’s been done if it’s not revenge motivated.”

Texas is known for its gun-toting, cowboy culture--and McLelland seemed to revel in his tough-guy image. But that did not help much--not when a bad guy with an assault weapon made him, and his home, a target.


Zacherydtaylor said...

When I heard McLelland's comments last night I thought the same thing. With all the talk about gun control going on around some might get the impression that it might be the solution to this problem but that would be mistaken although it might be a partial short term solution.

A more complete solution needs to involve many other changes including as you have indicated a review of the entire justice and social system.

legalschnauzer said...

Excellent points, Zachery. I'm not an expert on the psychology of firearms, but it seems to me that the stalker always is going to have an advantage over the stalkee, even if the latter is well armed and supposedly on high alert. If you are the target, it's going to be hard to stop an armed individual who wants to do you harm.

Anonymous said...

If ever a guy should have been able to fend off an intruder, it was this DA. Hard to figure how this happened.

Anonymous said...

Why on earth did the wife answer the door?

Anonymous said...

The corrections guy who got shot in Colorado answered his door, too. You would think these people might know better.

Barb said...

Powerful piece, LS. I have mixed emotions about gun control. But this makes me think maybe we need to focus more on keeping guns out of the hands of bad guys.

DTrain said...

Amazing that this DA, of all people, got shot in how own home, of all places.

Anonymous said...

I know this is a serious subject, but I can't help but think of an old Groucho Marx routine:

"A man shot me in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I'll never know."

Anonymous said...

We need to remember that our judicial system is actually organized crime,itself. I would love to see you do a story about Jefferson County DA of the Bessemer Cut-off, Arthur Green, and his involvement in criminal activities. Mr. Green and Robert White are co-owners of the only methadone clinic in Bessemer. I wonder how many folks he has needlessly sentenced to methadone treatment. Robert White owned a bingo parlor in Bessemer. Arthur Green petitioned Judge Verin to put a restraining order against him, forbidding him from closing bingo parlors in the Cut-off area. This is why these bingo halls were the last in the state to be shut down. This guy appears to be the epitome of corrupt.

Anonymous said...

I think that under the circumstances and given his position and high profile-when he went to the door he should have had a gun with him and clarified who was at the door and not just opened it! At least my understanding is that he opened the door in the dark to whomever. He may have still died but it seems to me he failed to be as diligent as his circumstances should have dictated. Unfortunately he is dead and the killer is on the loose and will likely kill again. This is like self protection 101 !!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like he the knew who it was that came knocking. Why else would they have answered the door. They weren't stupid enough to answer unless they felt safe in doing so.

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 1:06--

That thought crossed my mind, too. You would open your door, under the circumstances, to a stranger? Could someone have been disguised as a person they knew?

Anonymous said...

And seeing as he may have know who it was that shot he and his wife is probably not someone who's weapons will be taken away if there is a gun ban, only makes the argument against a gun ban more sound! They take away our guns then use theirs to kill us.... Anyone dumb enough to fall for that be my guest but just shut up about what you think everyone else should do.

Anonymous said...

They might wind up nailing a white supremacist or meth dealer for this. But I think it's about something way deeper than that. As a commenter noted yesterday, TX is home to some of the most corrupt SOBs in American history--Bush, Rove, you name it. I don't think that is a coincidence here.

Anonymous said...

I doubt they were disguised. Sounds more like they trusted this person and were familiar.

jeffrey spruill said...

Makes one think about answering one's door!


Jen said...

Commenters seem to be focusing on the fact that someone answered the door (and in particular that it was the wife), asking why anyone would answer his/her door and making the observation that they must have felt safe.

My response to that is the following:
1) Do you not ever answer your door, even when you don't know who it is? What if it's your neighbor who needs your help?
2) Of course his wife answered the door - he was apparently still in his pajamas. Most men of a certain age who have a prominent public profile are reluctant to answer the door in their pajamas. I can't speak for all people, but since it doesn't say that the wife was in her nightgown, I feel confident in saying that she was probably already dressed for the day and was therefore the one who answered the door.
3) NO ONE ever thinks that they will be attacked in their own home. Nobody. Which is why neither McLelland or his wife answered the door with a weapon in hand.

As an overall observation, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that if someone is out to kill you, unless you're holed up in a bunker with booby traps, completely deviating from your normal routine, the stalker is going to get the jump on you. It's called the element of surprise. Having weapons in schools or other areas as a means of protection makes no sense because they would only be used reactively; one cannot be proactive for such a scenario. Even the police are summed in response to shootings, not because they could see that any one individual planned to shoot someone, and they don't usually shoot offensively - their aim is almost always to diffuse a situation. Those who are proactive in this way, the ones who see danger around every corner, are the ones the majority of society looks at as crazy. Additionally, having previously been a soldier doesn't make an individual any more equipped to handle an intruder - even soldiers are trained not to shoot unless they've got a good reason too. It's called rules of engagement. It's hard to discern that before you've been threatened and if you aren't armed at that moment it's difficult to see how owning multiple firearms makes any difference.

And to the anonymous who quotes Groucho Marx, you're not quoting -it's a paraphrase, since the actual quote is rather different. "One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I'll never know." Obviously your version is more relevant to the topic at hand, but that doesn't make it a quote.

Anonymous said...

A few years ago a man with an automatic weapon entered a restaurant and shot about 7 police officers who were eating breakfast at their favorite joint in Tacoma Washington. Three or four died and the assailant got away with barely a scratch. He was later killed at a traffic stop by an alert and prepared officer. It speaks a lot to how easy it is to attack and kill armed and trained gun owners if that is your intent.

Anonymous said...

Jen, you are either extremely naive and shelter or just stupid. Sorry to be so blunt but tis true.

Anonymous said...

I did see on the ID channel where this guy in Atlanta wanted to kill his wife and he had someone to do it.. They drove up in a florist van got out and had a huge thing of flowers, ran the bell and when she answered the door the man shot her in the head. They could be disguised as anything. It is really a shame that we are afraid to go to our front door without being armed. Someone could pose as a mail carrier. Not hard to get any type of uniforms anymore. just look online.

Anonymous said...

Folks, I'd guess that either a neighbor, friend or family member was used as bait to get the door open, otherwise the door would just have been busted in. The other sad aspect is that the DA evidently didn't take the threat seriously enough. He should've had a gun under his pillow, placed some around the house and carried one to walk around the house. Sure it is a lousy way to live but combat is lousy and deadly serious. You can't have hubris against psychotics and tough talk is worthless talk. If you claim you're not a civilian then you had better not live like one. Guns can provide some protection only if they rule your life and then you can still be taken out anyway. Judge Maximum John Wood was shot at a distance getting into his car at his townhouse. The Aryan Nation killed the father of a prison official just to make a statement. ML King, who knew what he was up against and lived his life rather than let them rule his life, was on his motel balcony. I don't claim to have the answer.

jeffrey spruill said...

Federal prosecutor over Aryan Brotherhood racketeering case in Houston withdraws due to security concerns.


legalschnauzer said...

Thanks for sharing, Jeffrey. Wonder if these assassinations have anything to do with Aryan Brotherhood. Maybe we will find out someday.

Unknown said...

Jen, I like what you say and actually this post thread is an interesting pattern.

Most "quotes" are not exactly the way it probably was said.

"Plagiarism is the root of all culture." This is a finite planet. We've almost caused extinction in the species "human," via "modern wars."

All related in one way or another, amazing wild animals don't organize to war.

The guy was on high alert and in his pjs. Wife answered the door, obviously there was a way in which the knocker could be identified, or why when on high alert to be "gunned down" did wife answer door with husband in pjs.


America is a killer nation and has been killing all the people all the time everywhere, but can't happen here. That is, unless it's George W. Bush's Texas.

Please, Obummer said assassinations are to be and the ones who knew they were targets have gotten dead.

More to follow, killer nation kills all who pretend and all that do not, it's not MLK era, cause he's also dead and the killers are now free range no boundaries Texas got bigger just ask the brown skinned targets globally.

Jen said...

Really? He was on high alert? As I understand it he was allotted a security detail and dismissed them after a month. Funny how he was killed as soon as he thought he was safe. Which only serves to illustrate my point: people get lulled into a false sense of security when they are in their own homes. He wasn't carrying - he was running for his gun when he was shot, according to some reports. I worked with a guy who was a former SF guy, someone who had done secret missions in Peru and stuff like that. He was armed to the point that he had weapons stashed everywhere in his home: under his pillow, in a boot next to his bed, in the silverware drawer, in the table near the front door - you name it. He had enough weapons that when my husband got stationed in TX and I was still living in NC, he loaned me a revolver to have in the house just in case, since I'd had someone kick the door in while I was home. Yes, I'd been lulled into thinking that I was safe in my home. But you can't live a normal life and be constantly on alert. It all goes back to that - if someone is determined to kill you and you don't know their identity or even know of their intent, chances are they're going to get the drop on you and most of the time, you just can't react in time to keep the person from getting off a couple of rounds at a minimum. That's really just common sense. And even if you are armed, someone who's okay with a planned murder probably doesn't scare easily if you point a weapon at him/her.

Anonymous said...

Jen, there is nothing normal about someone wanting you dead! If you have some how been made aware that you are in grave danger ie a colleague gets blown away, you make changes to your life especially if you have a family! Those changes become normal and really aren't ruining your life when the alternative is death! Many people believe it or not must do so on a daily basis. If you know you are in danger and choose to live your life "normally" and you die, your either didn't give a shit, your just stupid or narcissism got the best of you. The number #1 place to make a safe haven, your home! Home IS where it will probably go down! They may relocate you to another spot but it will start there or at least there will certainly be incidents there. This man was not special needs as far as I can figure. A DA lives their lives on alert even after leaving office. He knew and trusted this person!