Slain Texas Prosecutor And Wife Buried, After Bomb Threat

by
Reuters
Private funeral services were held for a Texas prosecutor and his wife on Friday despite a bomb threat targeting the church in Wortham where friends, family and law enforcement officials gathered to bid the slain couple a final farewell.

Private funeral services were held for a Texas prosecutor and his wife on Friday despite a bomb threat targeting the church in Wortham where friends, family and law enforcement officials gathered to bid the slain couple a final farewell.

A public memorial had been held on Thursday for Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife Cynthia at the church where they worshipped in Sunnyvale, Texas. They were found shot dead at their home on Saturday two months after one of McLelland's assistant prosecutors was gunned down near the Kaufman County courthouse.

The threat against the First Baptist Church of Wortham, the eastern Texas town where McLelland grew up, came late Thursday, said Sergeant Clayton Aldrich of the Freestone County Sheriff's Department.

Someone apparently using a no-contract, pay-as-you-go cellphone called in the threat, making it extremely difficult to trace, Aldrich said.

"Criminals use them ... people who deal narcotics and stuff like that," Aldrich said.

No bomb was found and the funeral went ahead as planned.

The threat heightened tensions following the shootings, which law enforcement officials have characterized as attacks on the criminal justice system.

McLelland and his wife were found shot to death on Saturday at their home near Forney, 22 miles (35 km) from Dallas, two months after Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse was gunned down on Jan. 31. McLelland had publicly vowed to capture Hasse's killer.

About 300 mourners had packed into the small church for the McLellands' funeral. A procession led by McLelland's flag-draped coffin later stretched from the church and town center to the cemetery where the couple was buried after a grave-side service.

Aldrich said he did not have details about the message or threat made on the call, which triggered an exhaustive search of the church on Thursday night by agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

"They had the bomb-sniffing dogs and all that kind of stuff out there," he said.

"There's sick people in the world," Aldrich told Reuters, when asked if authorities had any suspicions about who might have made the bomb threat.

Wortham Police Chief Kelly Butler later said the call, which was traced to a cellphone tower in Mexia, about seven or eight miles (11-13 km) south of Wortham, was very vague.

"It just basically said there's a bomb at the church where they're having the funeral," Butler said.

The McLellands were married 28 years and had two daughters and three sons, one of whom became a Dallas police officer.

No arrests have been made for the killings of the McLellands and Hasse, nor have investigators named a suspect or person of interest. Current and former law enforcement officials have speculated a prison gang called the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas may be responsible.