Victor Breen, former tenth judicial district court district attorney, based in Quay County, was honored Monday at a ceremony in South Carolina attended by district attorneys from around the nation.
Breen, who was shot and killed in 1971 as he was getting in his car to drive to court, was honored by having his name added to a memorial of slain district attorneys at the Ernest F. Hollings National Advocacy Center on the campus of the University of South Carolina in Columbia. Breen’s name is one of just six names on the new memorial.
Current tenth district deputy attorney, Donald Schutte said Breen’s assailant was ruled incompetent to stand trial.
“This particlar person staked out Victor Breen’s house and shot him twice with a .30 caliber military rifle,” said Schutte. “Victor Breen had previously sent the man to the state hospital, and the man’s family was threatening the man that they would get Victor Breen to send him back to the hospital. The man was never prosecuted. He died in 1988.”
Breen served as tenth district prosecutor from 1951 until his death. The New Mexico District Attorney Association president, Lemuel Martinez, pointed to the importance of the memorial.
“It is extremely important to honor prosecutors like Vic Breen who have made the ultimate sacrifice pursuing their committment to making our community safe,” he said.
Schutte said Breen had local ties. “He was born in Forrest, so he was a local boy,” said Schutte. “He was known as a vigourous prosecutor. He understood the backgrounds of locals. He was understanding of the people’s circumstances but he would still prosecute them.”
According to U.S. Department of Justice figures, 41 percent of prosecutors’ offices reported a work-related threat or assault against a staff member. Schutte said he is aware of a number of past threats against members of the district attorney’s office located in Tucumcari. “There have been a number of threats over the years, but no real death threats, nothing really dramatic,” said Schutte. “Sometimes there have been threats uttered overtly in the courtroom, and sometimes we have heard of a person who is very angry at us.”