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Search continues for suspects in Texas prosecutor shooting

February 01, 2013|By Molly Hennessy-Fiske
  • Law enforcement officers investigate the scene of a shooting in downtown Kaufman, Texas, on Thursday morning. The Kaufman County sheriff has identified the assistant district attorney shot and killed by masked gunmen as Mark Hasse, a onetime Dallas County prosecutor.
Law enforcement officers investigate the scene of a shooting in downtown… (David Woo / Dallas Morning…)

HOUSTON--As investigators continued to search Friday for suspects in the fatal shooting Thursday of a Dallas-area prosecutor, Dallas County’s district attorney offered to match a $30,000 reward for information leading to those responsible.

Officials were still trying to determine a motive for the bold shooting outside the county courthouse in Kaufman, about 33 miles southeast of Dallas.

Witnesses told investigators that suspects confronted Assistant Dist. Atty. Mark Hasse, 57, after he left his car in an employee parking lot outside the courthouse about 9 a.m., shooting him five times, according to Kaufman County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Pat Laney. Some witnesses reported the suspects were dressed in black, wore masks and a tactical vest, but investigators were still verifying that Friday.

Hasse was a certified peace officer, known to carry a weapon and sometimes wear a gun belt, Laney told The Times.  She said investigators had not yet told her Friday whether Hasse was armed at the time of the attack.

Kaufman County CrimeStoppers issued a $30,000 reward Thursday, asking those with information to call (817) 847-7522 (that reward has since grown to at least $32,000, Laney said).

Dallas Dist. Atty. Craig Watkins said he would match the reward Friday morning during an appearance on WFAA-TV. Debbie Denmon, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office, confirmed the announcement to The Times.

She noted that Hasse had worked at the Dallas office from 1982 to 1988, part of the time as chief of the organized specialized crime division.

“He was known as a pit bull who wasn’t afraid to take on any case,” she said.  “He was just a really good prosecutor, fearless.”

She said the shooting was a reminder to Dallas’s 250 prosecutors of the potential threats they face daily.

“They know that their jobs are dangerous and that could have been one of them,” Denmon said. “Prosecutors go to their cars every day with people who are also going to court, getting on the same elevators with their family members. It’s a dangerous job.”

Of the suspects, she said, “we just want them brought to justice,” and with the added reward money, “hopefully, that will get people talking.”

No suspects had been arrested early Friday, Laney said.

The shooting came the same day that the U.S. Department of Justice announced that two members of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas gang had pleaded guilty to federal racketeering charges and credited Kaufman County prosecutors for assisting with the case.

Laney said investigators were looking into that and other cases Hasse handled for clues into who might have wanted to hurt him.

She said the sheriff planned a briefing Friday morning.


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