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Prosecutor gunned down while walking from parking lot to work at courthouse

Posted Jan 31, 2013 4:39 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A veteran prosecutor was fatally shot multiple times while walking to work at a Texas courthouse on Thursday morning from a nearby parking lot.

The motive for the attack on assistant Kaufman County district attorney Mark Hasse, 57, isn't known. Hasse was transported to a nearby hospital after being shot as he walked toward the county courthouse in Kaufman at the start of the day, according to the Dallas Morning News Crime Blog and Kansas City Star. He died at the hospital, NBC5 Dallas-Fort Worth reported.

Authorities are investigating to see whether the shooting is related to Hasse's work as a prosecutor and two local lawyers told the newspaper they assume it must be.

“I felt it very certainly had to be work-related,” defense lawyer Eric Smenner, who has an office near the courthouse, told the newspaper. “I can’t imagine the guy has any enemies that would cause that to happen on a personal level.”

Because Hasse parked in the same area daily, it would have been easy to target him, Smenner noted.

At a press conference Thursday, Sheriff David A. Byrnes called the shooting of Hasse an attack on society, saying "In some ways, this is worse than shooting a police officer,” the Kaufman Herald reports.

A WFAA report quotes a sheriff's department spokeswoman as saying that Hasse was ambushed in a parking lot and shot multiple times at about 8:50 a.m.

The courthouse was locked down and later closed for the day as authorities searched for suspects. Two reportedly drove off from the shooting scene together.

Hasse, who began working for Kaufman County in 2010, headed murder and drug prosecutions. He was formerly a prosecutor for the Dallas County District Attorney's Office.

"Mark was really a great guy, he was the consummate prosecutor, he was hardworking, loved his job, and juries loved him for some reason," his former boss at the Dallas County DA's office, Ted Steinke, told the station. "He wasn't very large in stature, but juries loved him and he exuded confidence."

A $20,000 reward has been offered by Kaufman authorities for the capture and conviction of the assailants, the Dallas Morning News reports.

Dallas County DA Craig Watkins said his office hopes to prosecute the case, which he believes Kaufman County will be conflicted out of handling directly.

Reuters also has a story.

Last updated at 7:51 p.m. to remove erroneous report than an individual had been arrested in this case.

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