KAUFMAN, TX - Kaufman County is on edge. Two prosecutors killed in two months, including the district attorney, gunned down in his home over the weekend.
What's going on? Is someone assassinating prosecutors?
As armed guards surround the Kaufman County Courthouse and police shrouded some public officials in around-the-clock protection, it seems there are as many questions as answers.
Several dozen FBI agents are now assisting the investigation, a bureau spokeswoman said.
District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, were shot to death, nearly two months after one of his assistants died in a brazen daytime shooting outside the north Texas county's courthouse. Rifle casings littered the scene, according to a law enforcement source.
A search warrant affidavit stated the couple was found dead Saturday evening by friends who had tried to reach them several times during the day. Each of them had been shot multiple times, the affidavit states.
McLelland talked to relatives on Friday night, the affidavit states. Investigators have asked a judge for records of mobile phone calls that were relayed through at least one nearby tower, the documents show.
The killings followed warnings that a white supremacist group might be preparing to take revenge on law enforcement officials who targeted them in 2012. Both Kaufman County prosecutors apparently started carrying guns, but it wasn't enough.
It's unclear whether the killings were linked to the January 31 shooting death of Kaufman County assistant prosecutor Mark Hasse, or to the March 19 death of the prisons chief in Colorado. Authorities say a suspect in that shooting was a onetime white supremacist gang member who died in a shootout with deputies -- in north Texas.
"This whole thing is shocking to all of us," said Kaufman County Judge Bruce Wood during a Monday news conference. "I would be less than honest if I told you I was not worried."
Michael Burns, McLelland's law school classmate, longtime friend and fellow district attorney, said that after Hasse's klling, McLelland told him, "They better come prepared because there'll be a fight."
Burns is now the district attorney in Palo Pinto County, on the opposite side of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. He said all he knows about his friend's death is what he's heard in the news, but told CNN, "Sometimes you just can't defend against that kind of an ambush."
McLelland's office was closed Monday, but other Kaufman County courthouse offices reopened under heavy security. Brandi Fernandez, McLelland's first assistant district attorney, will take over the office on an interim basis until Gov. Rick Perry can appoint a successor, county officials announced.
In a statement issued earlier in the day, Perry offered his condolences to McLelland's family and friends and promised to name a replacement "as soon as possible."
The McLellands' bodies were found Saturday at their home in the Dallas suburb of Forney. Authorities haven't said much about what happened beyond that.
A law enforcement source told CNN that investigators have recovered several shell casings from a .223-caliber rifle.
Mike Griffith, whose yard backs up to the McLellands', told CNN affiliate WFAA-TV he thinks he heard the attack unfolding early Saturday.
"It was five or six shots, one right after the other," WFAA quoted Griffith as saying.
The deaths came almost exactly two months after someone shot Hasse and the day McLelland vowed to bring his killer -- he used the word "scum" -- to justice.
"We're going to pull you out of whatever hole you're in, we're going to bring you back and let the people of Kaufman County prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law," he said.
Hasse had feared for his life and carried a gun to work, said a Dallas attorney who described herself as his longtime friend.
Colleen Dunbar said she spoke with Hasse a week before he died. She said the prosecutor told her he had begun carrying a gun in and out of the county courthouse daily.
"He told me he would use a different exit every day because he was fearful for his life," Dunbar told CNN.
She said that Hasse gave no specifics on why he felt threatened, only that he did.
Are killings retribution?
Authorities insist that they just don't know who may be behind the killings. "I have no idea who's responsible," Wood said.
However, McLelland's office was one of numerous Texas and federal agencies involved in a multiple-year investigation that led to the 2012 indictment of 34 alleged members of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, including four of its senior leaders, on racketeering charges.
At the time, Assistant U.S. Attorney Lanny A. Breuer called the indictment a "devastating blow" to the organization, which he said used threats and violence, including murder, against "those who violate (its) rules or pose a threat to the enterprise."
The FBI describes the group as a "whites only," prison-based gang with members operating inside and outside of state and federal prisons throughout