Shootings at two facilities, a Jewish community center and retirement home, killed three people and critically injured a 14-year-old boy in the Kansas City area on Sunday.
The suspect in the Passover Eve killings of three people at two Jewish community facilities in a Kansas City suburb has a long history of racism and anti-Semitism, human rights groups said on Monday.
In all, the gunman shot at five people, none of whom he’s believed to have known, said Overland Park Police Chief John Douglass. Three people died: the other two were not injured.
Frazier Glenn Cross, 73, is facing charges of premeditated murder and is scheduled for an initial court appearance on Monday afternoon. He was arrested Sunday after a shooting spree that killed a 14-year-old boy and his grandfather outside a popular Jewish community center, and a third victim outside a nearby Jewish retirement home.
Both facilities are in overland Park, Kansas, an upscale suburb outside Kansas City, Missouri.
Overland Park police said Miller is the founder and former leader of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and the White patriot Party. But authorities said they would have to investigate further to determine if the violence on Sunday was a hate crime.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder issued a statement Monday pledging federal help in determining whether or not the federal hate crimes statute was implicated in the “heinous” killings.
“I was horrified to learn of this weekend’s tragic shootings outside Kansas City. These senseless acts of violence are all the more heartbreaking as they were perpetrated on the even of the solemn occasion of Passover,” Holder said.
President Obama offered condolences. “While we ho not know all of the details… the initial reports are heartbreaking,” Obama said in a statement.
The Jewish Community Center, known locally as “The J” is a popular spot for many families throughout the area, Jewish of not. It is also the site of Kansas City’s only Jewish community day school, the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy.
The grandfather and grandson were Methodists, their pastor, the Rev. Adam Hamilton, told CNN on Monday.
At a vigil Sunday night at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, Mindy Corporon walked up to the podium and introduced herself as the mother and daughter of the community center victims. The gathered gasped.
Rabbi David Glickman, of the Beth Shalom synagogue in Overland Park, was at home preparing for the Jewish Passover holiday when he heard the news of the shooting.
“Everybody is shocked that it would happen here,” said Glickman. “This is a community that enjoys very strong and positive relations between the Jewish community and the rest of the community.”
The Anti-Defamation League said it warned last week of the increased possibility of violent attacks against community centers in the coming weeks, “which coincide both with the Passover holiday and Hitler’s birthday on April 20, a day around which in the United States has historically been marked by extremist acts of violence and terrorism.”
The Kansas City area’s Jewish community numbers about 20,000.
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