Gunman kills three at 2 Kansas City Jewish Centers
A tragedy the day before Passover begins has cast a pall over this time of reflection as a gunman with a history of anti-Semitic associations opened fire at two Jewish Community centers in Kansas, killing three people.
Authorities are investigating whether the shootings were a hate crime, Overland Park Police Chief John Douglass told reporters.
"It's too early in the investigation to try to label it. We know it's a vicious act of violence. Obviously, at two Jewish facilities, one might make that assumption, but we're going to have to know more about it," he said.
Suspect Frazier Glenn Cross faces charges of premeditated first-degree murder. He is scheduled to appear in court on Monday, Lt. Craig Buckendahl from the Johnson County Sheriff's Office said.
Video from CNN affiliate KMBC showed a man who appeared to be the suspect sitting in the back of a patrol car and shouting, "Heil Hitler."
Douglass said police are investigating statements the suspect made after his arrest, but declined to provide additional details.
Investigators believe the suspect is affiliated with white-supremacist groups and was involved in previous incidents, such as threats, two federal law enforcement officials told CNN.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, described Cross as a longtime, "raging anti-Semite" who has posted extensively in an online forum that advocates exterminating Jews.
The shootings occurred at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City in Overland Park, Kansas, and at the Village Shalom Retirement Community in Leawood, Kansas.
Authorities arrested the suspect at a nearby elementary school after the shootings, Douglass said. The suspected shooter is not from Kansas and did not appear to know his victims, he said.
A shotgun was involved in the shootings, Douglass said. Authorities are investigating whether other weapons were also involved.
The gunman shot at a total of five people, Douglass said, but two of them were not injured.
The FBI is at the scene working with local authorities, FBI spokesman Joel Sealer said.
Rabbi Herbert Mandl, a chaplain for the Overland Park Police Department, said the victims included a teenager and an elderly woman.
The shootings, which occurred the day before Passover begins, sound "very much like a hate crime," he said.
"The timing is terrible. The timing is awful," Mandl said. "From what I understand from my contacts, this is a one-person event, and this is hopefully under control now."
In a bitter twist to the tragedy, two of the dead - a grandfather and his teenage grandson - were members of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood.
We'll no doubt hear a lot of amateur psychoanalyzing of Cross's motives over the next few days. I hope both right and left refrain from blaming the other for this awful event, and place the blame where it belongs; on Nazis, while joining the families and communities in mourning for those lost.