Dallas, TX –
The deaths of Rufus and Lynn Flint Shaw last night have stunned Dallas' political community where the couple was well known. Among the most shocked was State Senator Royce West who retrieved a phone message foretelling the tragedy. As KERA's Shelly Kofler reports.
Monday night around 6pm, 56-year old Rufus Shaw left an ominous voicemail for his childhood friend, State Senator Royce West. West recovered it too late.
West: He said by the time I responded he and Lynn would be dead. He asked me to work with his son to settle his affairs. He made an off the wall comment I didn't understand- that his enemies would have him dead by the end of the day.
State Senator West says the voice didn't sound like the confident, competitive man he'd known since 8th grade.
West: There was something in the voice that was not the strong voice I'm accustomed to. He graduated valedictorian or salutatorian from Lincoln High School. He got an MBA from Southern Methodist University. Lynn graduated from, I believe, Xavier University. So, this was a well-educated family. Rufus basically never backed down from a fight.
What police are investigating as a probable murder-suicide, where Mr. Shaw shot his wife then himself, is a tragedy that cuts short the lives of two prominent African-Americans. They were civic contributors with human problems. He had ruffled establishment feathers for years and was fighting prostate cancer. She had supported many establishment activities - the arts and bond referendums- but had recently resigned as chair of the DART board after being arrested for forging a document to avoid repaying a loan.
53-year old Lynn Flint Shaw was treasurer of a fundraising organization for Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert's officeholder account.
Mayor Leppert: Lynn put an awful lot of her heart and soul in this community. She was very involved in the arts on a citywide basis. It's just a tragedy.
Mr. Shaw, 56, was a contributing columnist for the Dallas Weekly, a newspaper that focuses on African-American issues. Publisher Jim Washington says Shaw's controversial commentaries on Dallas City Hall often provided light as well as heat.
Washington: He thought of himself as a voice for people who didn't have a voice. Some characterized him as an angry man. I always said he had an edge. He was constantly talking about how the African American community could, if it coalesced around a candidate, make a difference.
Washington, too, says murder and suicide don't fit the personalities of the power couple he knew. Although they had legal and health problems, those who saw the Shaws as fighters and achievers thought they knew were coping.