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September 2, 2014

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Police chief: No sign of fear from slain prosecutor of organized crime cases

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The Dallas Morning News, David Woo / AP

David Byrnes, sheriff of Kaufman County, right, bows his head as Mike McLelland, district attorney of Kaufman County, answers questions at a news conference at the Kaufman Law Enforcement Center on Thursday, January 31, 2013, in Kaufman, Texas. Kaufman County Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse was shot and killed early Thursday morning as he was walking from his car to the courthouse.

KAUFMAN, Texas — Authorities don't know whether a Texas prosecutor who had extensive experience with organized crime had feared for his life before he was fatally shot, but they're poring through the cases he handled for leads to his killer, officials said Friday.

No arrests have been made since assistant district attorney Mark Hasse was gunned down Thursday morning in a parking lot about a block from his office at the Kaufman County courthouse. Authorities are searching for one or two suspects. Witnesses have said the killer was dressed in black with facial features covered.

Kaufman police Chief Chris Aulbaugh said there's no indication that Hasse, 57, had been afraid he might be killed and, although the prosecutor was a licensed peace officer, officials refused to say whether he was carrying a weapon.

"We are reviewing Mr. Hasse's cases and following up on any leads that would give us rise for a person of interest," Aulbaugh said. In addition to local authorities, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the FBI and the ATF are investigating the case.

That could be a daunting task. Hasse joined the Kaufman County DA's office three years ago and previously worked in the Dallas County district attorney's office, where he specialized in organized crime cases.

Kaufman County DA Mike McLelland said Hasse was one of 12 attorneys on his staff, all of whom handle hundreds of cases at a time.

"Anything anybody can think of, we're looking through," McLelland said.

Video surveillance cameras from convenience stories and other businesses in the area are being monitored to see if a vehicle linked to the killing was spotted, authorities said. The vehicle is believed to be an older model gray, four-door sedan.

Authorities also hope that reward money — which had grown to nearly $65,000 Friday — will lead to tips.

"We will follow every lead that we receive," Aulbaugh said.

Hasse was shot multiple times just before 9 a.m. Thursday in the parking lot behind courthouse annex. He was taken away in an ambulance, but it's unclear whether he died at the hospital or en route.

Hasse had been chief of the organized crime unit when he was assistant prosecutor in Dallas County in the 1980s, and in Kaufman County, 33 miles southeast of Dallas, he handled similar cases.

McLelland described Hasse as a hard worker who knew the dangers of his job.

"You know there is the potential for somebody bad to do something to you, because they've done something bad to somebody else," McLelland said.

But, he added, Hasse "had an absolute passion for putting away bad guys. He enjoyed nothing better."

Robbins reported from Dallas

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