John Bacon, USA TODAY
A manhunt is under way for two suspects after an assistant district attorney was gunned down Thursday outside a courthouse in Kaufman, Texas.
The prosecutor was shot five times around 9 a.m. local time outside the Kaufman County Courthouse. The victim was ambushed while getting out of the car in the parking lot, KDFW-TV is reporting.
Sheriff David Byrnes said the killing was an attack on the criminal justice system."This is the next level (of crime)," he said.
The Dallas Morning News is reporting that "authorities with knowledge of the assistant DA's caseload say he had been heavily involved in the investigation of members of the Aryan Brotherhood."
A probe is underway to determine if the shooting is connected to that investigation, the Morning News says.
The victim was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. The identity has not yet been released because his family hasn't been notified, Kaufman Sheriff David Byrnes said.
Security officers and deputies closed nearby streets.
Kaufman County Judge Bruce Wood said the county courthouse is closed today and it would be up to the sheriff to determine when it would reopen.
Wood told the Morning News he saw the victim every day in the courthouse hallways.
"He was revered and he did an outstanding job," Wood said. "We see each other every day. ... It's a very small courthouse."
"It's a horrible situation," Wood told the Morning News. "None of us would have ever expected anything like this to ever happen in our county."
Kaufman Police Chief Chris Aulbaugh said the shooting would have a major impact on the town and the county.
"Any loss of life, especially someone out there protecting the community, would have that effect," he said.
Kaufman is a North Texas city of about 6,700 people about 33 miles southeast of Dallas.
Contributing: Associated Press