Houston-area counties beef up security in wake of Kaufman County killings
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Prosecutors around the state have stepped up security in the wake of the shootings of the district attorney, his wife and an assistant DA in Kaufman County.
With 270 prosecutors in Harris County DA's office, there's a big difference from the 12 in Kaufman County. District Attorney Mike Anderson was elected in November and has spent less than 100 days in office. He sat down with me to discuss the vulnerabilities of the job.
Harris County's top prosecutor tells us there is increased security here, even though we did find one instance where security didn't seem to be a top priority at one downtown building over the weekend.
For the past three months, Anderson has walked into his office with criminal cases on his mind. But Monday morning, it was more than the case load that had him thinking.
"This is something that faces prosecutors day in and day out," he said. "We don't know what the situation, the motive, the identify, the details of what happened in Kaufman County."
Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife Cynthia were shot to death inside their home Saturday night just two months after Assistant District Attorney Mike Hasse was gun down in the same county.
Anderson says that as a prosecutor, it's something you hope you'll never hear about.
"But it's something you know about when you get into it thism," he said. "Again, it's not something you like to think about, but it's something that it exists."
Since the recent murders, the Harris County Sheriff's Office has beefed up security for Anderson and his family. Anderson has also reached out to his assistant district attorneys to make sure they are safe.
"We are going to do the very best I can to make sure they are safe so that they can do their job," Anderson said.
Anderson says safety is a top priority in light of the Kaufman killings, so his office says he was shocked to learn about cell phone video shot by an Eyewitness News photographer Sunday, the day after the murder of McLelland and his wife. The video captured a security breach at the civil courthouse with an unlocked door, unmanned metal detectors and access to courtrooms
"So for there to be a breach in protocol of any kind is alarming and certainly something that should be and will be addressed," Anderson said.
Meanwhile, Anderson says he is keeping a close eye on the Kaufman investigation, staying in contact with his family and in close contact with his ADAs.
"This is one of those things you read about and hear about," he said. "It comes home when it happens here in the state of Texas."
In Huntsville, the Walker County seat, neither the courthouse nor the district attorney's office is teeming with uniforms, even though the concern is just the same.
"Very clearly, everybody is concerned and scared truthfully," Walker County DA David Weeks said.
Weeks' office of just six prosecutors is more on par with the one in Kaufman County -- small, rural and where everyone, even the boss, tries cases.
"There's certainly not any felony proceeding that I'm not there," Weeks said.
So when Weeks got word from the Texas Rangers this weekend to be careful and look at security procedures, officials decided to do what they can.
It was the first thing discussed in his office Monday morning. With limited resources, he and his investigators are working to increase security. For Weeks, that means always arming himself.
"I'm more conscience of it now," he said. "I don't go places I don't."
Because right now, he said the unknown is what's most disturbing.
"What is this? Is this connected? What's going on?" Weeks said. "Is this tied to events there or is this part of something larger?"
The Galveston County DA says he and his family have personal protection in additional to the protection that he receives at work. The Montgomery County DA declined to speak in specifics about security there.
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