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Amid attacks on law enforcement, prosecutors rattled but resolute

The national wave of attack on law enforcement officials amounts to an 'attack on the rule of law' that shows 'prosecutors really aren't lawyers, but warriors.' Many are taking extra precautions.

By Staff Writer / April 5, 2013

The First Baptist Church of Wortham is packed with family, friends, and law enforcement officers during the funeral for Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, Friday, in Wortham, Texas.

LM Otero/AP



An unprecedented wave of targeted assassination-style attacks on US justice system officials in California, Texas, Colorado, and West Virginia has rattled a US community of 40,000 big-city and small-town prosecutors, many whom have begun taking extra precautions as they go about their daily courthouse routines.

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Indeed, Scott Burns, the executive director of the National District Attorneys Association, says the shootings of two prosecutors in Kaufman County, Texas, the assassination of Colorado’s top prison official, the broad daylight murder of a small-town West Virginia sheriff, and the targeting of police by ex-LAPD cop Chris Dorner amount to a rare but alarming “attack on the rule of law.”

One lesson to be drawn from the burst of attacks, he says, is that “prosecutors really aren’t lawyers, but warriors.”

So far, authorities have not linked the series of murders, but the Colorado and Texas attacks appeared to have a point in common. In Colorado, a member of a white supremacist prison gang, 211 Crew, was arrested on Thursday in connection to the March 19 shooting of prison chief Tom Clements. While in Texas, Gov. Rick Perry vowed to “hunt” down the at-large conspirators – potentially Mexican drug gangs or neo-Nazi prison gangs, or a combination of both – behind the Jan. 31 murder of Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse and the March 27 double murder of District Attorney Mike McClelland and his wife, Cynthia.

In West Virginia, police continued to search for a motive for the assassination of Sheriff Eugene Crum by a former coal miner who may have had mental health problems.

Targeted attacks on members of the justice system occur with some regularity, but researchers say the recent uptick is significant.

The first three years of the last decade saw six targeted law enforcement attacks compared with 15 in the first three years of the 2010s, according to Glenn McGovern, the author of a March 1 paper called “Murdered Justice: An Exploratory Study of Targeted Attacks on the Justice Community.”


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