Jewish centre shootings claim three
Police have a suspect in custody after shootings that killed three people and wounded one at two Kansas Jewish facilities, in what could be a hate crime.PT0M49S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-36mdk 620 349 April 14, 2014
The 73-year-old man accused of going on a deadly shooting spree Sunday at two Jewish facilities in a Kansas City suburb was identified by an activist organisation that tracks racist activities as a former "grand dragon” of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Three people died in the shootings.
Law enforcement officials confirmed on Monday that the suspect in the Passover Eve killings at two Jewish facilities Kansas City is a former Ku Klux Klan leader with a history of hatred for Jews.
Frazier Glenn Cross, 73, faces local and federal prosecution on hate crime charges after his arrest on Sunday for a shooting spree that killed a teenager and his grandfather outside a Jewish community center, and a woman visiting her mother at a nearby Jewish retirement home.
Yelling antisemitic slogans ...Frazier Glenn Cross, also known as Frazier Glenn Miller, is escorted by police in an elementary school parking lot in Overland Park, Kansas. Image provided by KCTV-5. Photo: AP
Both facilities are in Overland Park, Kansas, an upscale suburb outside Kansas City, Missouri. None of the victims was Jewish. The boy and his grandfather were members of an area Methodist church and the woman attended a Catholic church.
Cross, of Aurora, Missouri, had a criminal history and was known by law enforcement and human rights groups as a former senior member of the KKK movement and someone who had long made public comments against Jewish people, according to the FBI.
"Yesterday's attack ... strikes at the core fundamental freedoms ... of how our country was founded and what we live by every single day," said FBI agent Michael Kaste.
The attack "strikes at the core fundamental freedoms ... of how our country was founded": FBI Special Agent in charge Michael Kaste (centre) addresses the media. Photo: AFP
The Southern Poverty Law Centre, a leading anti-hate group, has tracked Cross, who also goes by the name Frazier Glenn Miller, for years. The group said he was involved in creating an armed paramilitary organisation in North Carolina 20 years ago and is a "raging anti-Semite" who has posted online commentaries that state "No Jews, Just Right" along with calls to "exterminate the Jews."
Cross is a former leader of both the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and the White Patriot Party, groups aimed at the unification of white people, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. He served time in prison on weapons charges and for making threats through the mail, the group said.
The Anti-Defamation League said Cross was one of the "more notorious white supremacists" in the United States in the early 1980s, though his involvement over the last decade has been on the periphery of the white supremacist movement.
In this April 17, 1984 file photo, Glenn Miller, leader of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, holds a news conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. Photo: AP
The league issued a security bulletin to US synagogues and Jewish communal institutions urging them to review security plans for the Passover holiday that started at sundown.
The shootings started around 1 pm at the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Kansas City.
Shot dead ... Terri LaManno, a Catholic, was attacked while visiting her mother at Village Shalom assisted living facility in Leawood. Photo: AP
High school student Reat Griffin Underwood, 14, was with his grandfather, 69-year-old William Corporon, outside the Jewish Community Center when they both were attacked. The teenager was at the centre to audition for a singing competition, according to his mother Mindy Corporon Losen.
Both suffered head wounds. The grandfather died at the scene and the boy died later at a hospital, police said.
In a press conference on Monday, Losen recounted the last moments she saw her son alive. The boy was excited to be auditioning for the vocal competition and sang two songs for his mother before he left for the community centre. One song was You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone, Losen said.
This photo, provided by the police, shows Frazier Glenn Cross, a 73-year-old Vietnam War veteran from southwest Missouri and founder of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Photo: AP
Losen herself drove to the community centre later to try to see her son, not knowing anything had happened. She arrived just moments after the shooter had fled and found her father dead on the ground beside his truck and her fatally wounded son lying in the arms of strangers who were trying to help keep the boy alive.
"It was very unreal and no one should have to go through that," she said. "It didn't feel like a crime scene to me. It was my family."
The third victim was killed a little more than a 1.6km away outside the Village Shalom retirement community. Terri LaManno, 53, was making a regular visit to her mother who lived at the retirement facility when she was shot, police said. LaManno was an occupational therapist and married mother of two children, police said.
It appeared the gunman had used a shotgun and possibly other firearms, police said.
FBI agent Kaste said his agency had been aware of Cross and his background but was not monitoring him and had no warnings of the attacks. He said that it did not matter that the victims were not Jewish because hate crime violations are tied to the biases and beliefs of the suspect, not the identities of the victims.
The Jewish Community Center, known locally as "The J" is a popular recreational and educational spot for many families throughout the area, Jewish or not. It is also the site of Kansas City's only Jewish community day school, the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy.
"It was a horrible act of violence," said Losen. But "we want something good to come out of this. We don't know what that is going to be."
The family is waiting to hear if Reat's tissue and organs are suitable for donation, she said.
"He was with us for a wonderful 14 years. We were very blessed," Losen said.
Reuters, The Washington Post