In what is increasingly shaping up as a hate crime, a heavyset man in his 70s has been taken into custody after shootings at two Jewish community sites in the Kansas City area. He killed three people — one of them a 14-year old boy. Among the three dead were a grandfather and his grandson, the 14-year-old. (UPDATE: “Law enforcement officials identified the alleged shooter as 73-year-old Frasier Glenn Cross, Jr, from Missouri, according to NBC News.”)
According to one account, the shooter also asked people if they were Jewish. If they said yes, he shot them.
The shootings occurred one day before the official start of the Jewish holiday “Passover.”
Unless it turns out to be one of those details that are reported after a crime but proves to be false, if someone shows up at Jewish community sites, asks them if they were Jewish and shoots them if they answer in the affirmative and then yells “Heil Hitler” after shooting them right before Passover, yes, you don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to conclude it is indeed a hate crime. You can safely conclude he is not invited to too many bar mitzvahs.
A man yelled, “Heil Hitler,” after he was taken into custody in connection with the Passover Eve fatal shooting of three at two Jewish-related sites in the Kansas City area.
Two males were killed outside the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City. A female was killed a few minutes later in the parking lot at Village Shalom, an assisted living facility.
The suspect shot at two other people, but the bullets did not hit them, said Overland Park Police Chief John Douglass.
The victims apparently did not know their killer, Douglass said.
Apparently the suspect fired a dozen of or shots.
The suspect is a man in his 70s who wasn’t known to Overland Park authorities before Sunday. He is not from Kansas. His vehicle apparently had Missouri plates. Douglass wouldn’t say whether the man, who is being held at the Johnson County Jail, is from Missouri.
Douglass also wouldn’t say whether the shootings were anti-Semitic hate crimes. He said authorities are evaluating comments that the suspect made after he was arrested.
It is a joint federal-state investigation with the offices of U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom and Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe involved.
The Kansas City Star reported that the two killed at JCC were a 14-year-old boy and his grandfather who attend the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood. Prayers were held during the church’s evening Palm Sunday service.
The boy was rushed to Overland Park Regional Medical Center for surgery, but would die from his injuries.
The suspect was arrested at the Valley View Park Elementary School, which is a mile away from Village Shalom. KCTV5’s Bonyen Lee says the suspect appeared to yell “Heil Hitler” as he was being led away in handcuffs by Overland Park police.
A smirking gunman who reportedly shouted Nazi slogans opened fire at a Jewish community center and an old-age home in a suburb of Kansas City, killing three people.
The gunman, said to be an older man, singled out Jewish victims for death, Rabbi Herbert Mandl, a chaplain with the Overland Park Police Department, told CNN.
“Asking someone if you are Jewish before shooting sounds very much like a hate crime,” Mandl said.
Police said two people were killed at the JCC of Greater Kansas City, where children were auditioning for a musical. Despite Mandl’s assertion, the JCC victims were identified as a churchgoing teenage boy and his grandfather.
Rev. Adam Hamilton shared the tragic news at an evening Palm Sunday service at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kan., the Kansas City Star reported.
“Help us, oh, Lord to grieve as people of hope,” Hamilton told congregants, the paper said.
Here’s the JCC’s Facebook page, which is being updated frequently.
A 41 Action News photographer on the scene spoke with Mark Brodky, a member at the JCC, who says another man pointed a gun at him and shot the windows out of his car, “I thought he was shooting an air rifle and all the sudden he shot at me.”
The Jewish Community Center, which is also the site of Kansas City’s only Jewish community day school, the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy, was a hub of activity on Sunday. Several youth groups were meeting, some people were auditioning in the facility’s theater for an upcoming music production, people were exercising in the center’s gym, and the academy was preparing for a school dance.
Rabbi Herbert Mandl, who works with the Overland Park police, told CNN that the gunman asked people if they were Jewish.
“If you answered yes, you were shot,” Mandl said.
The man taken into custody was apprehended at a nearby elementary school and was heard yelling “Heil Hitler,” according to KSHB-TV.
An eyewitness told Fox News that a man wielding a shotgun opened fire in the JCC theater, where the auditions for the show were underway.
“My son and I were walking into the Jewish Community Center this afternoon for an umpire clinic, around the west side, and all of the sudden we heard a gunshot, a pretty loud gunshot,” Mike Metcalf, an area resident, told Fox News. “I turned to look to my right and I can see a man standing outside a car with a shotgun, what to me looked like a shotgun, and there was somebody laying on the ground.”
A JCC member, Mark Brodky, told a KSHB photographer that the gunman shot the windows out of his car after pointing the gun at him.
The assisted-living center remained under lockdown following the attack, which came a day before the start of Passover on Monday evening. A police officer outside the B’nai Jehudah congregation said units have been sent to other Jewish facilities as a precaution.
— The Hill (@thehill) April 14, 2014
President Obama issues statement on today's shootings at the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, Kansas pic.twitter.com/iWp0btlF3t
— NBC Nightly News (@nbcnightlynews) April 14, 2014
— Moms Demand Action (@MomsDemand) April 13, 2014