A 14-year-old boy and his grandfather were among three people shot to death on Sunday at two different Jewish community facilities in a Kansas City-area suburb.
Police said it was too early to determine a motive, but a leading anti-hate group said the suspect arrested in the shooting was a longtime anti-Semite. The attack came a day before the Jewish holiday of Passover.
"We know it's a vicious act of violence. Obviously two Jewish facilities, one might make that assumption," Overland Park Police Chief John Douglass said in a news conference. The FBI has been called in to help with the investigation, he said.
The suspect was identified as Frazier Glenn Cross Jr., 73, by authorities in Kansas, and by the Southern Poverty Law Center as Frazier Glenn Miller Jr., a longtime anti-Semite who is the former grand dragon of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Cross is a name used by Frazier Glenn Miller Jr.and that the center confirmed the link with Cross' wife.
He was being held at a Johnson County detention center on suspicion of premeditated murder in the first degree and was scheduled to appear in court on Monday afternoon, according to jail records.
The shootings started around 1 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City in Overland Park, Kansas. Two males were shot in a parking lot outside the center, one dying at the scene and the other later at a hospital, police said.
The shooter then drove just a mile away to the Village Shalom retirement community that provides skilled nursing services for residents and fatally shot a female there, Douglass said.
The two male victims were identified as Reat Griffin Underwood, 14, a high school freshman, and his grandfather, Dr. William Corporon, family member Will Corporon said in a statement. Both were members of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.
Underwood was an Eagle Scout and loved camping and hunting with family, Corporon said. Dr. Corporon had moved to the Kansas City area in 2003 to be closer to his grandchildren.
Two other people were shot at, but not hit, the police chief said. He said it appears the shooter used a shotgun and possibly other types of guns.
The suspect, a bearded white man in his 70s, was taken into custody in the parking lot of a nearby elementary school, Douglass said. The police chief declined to identify the suspect, but said he was not from Kansas.
Douglass said he could not confirm reports from witnesses that the suspect had yelled "Heil Hitler" while in the back of the squad car after being taken into custody.
"The suspect in the back of a car made several statements," Douglass said. "We are sifting through and vetting those for accuracy, number one, and number two we are looking at them for their evidentiary value."
President Barack Obama offered condolences. "While we do not know all of the details... the initial reports are heartbreaking," he said in a statement.
Several youth groups were meeting, some people were auditioning in the facility's theater for a music production, people were exercising in the center's gym, and the academy was preparing for a school dance. Many non-Jewish people regularly participate in the facility's activities.
Bailey Wainestock, 16, was one of nine teenagers attending a youth organization meeting at the community center when the shooting took place. They barricaded the door and remained locked in for more than an hour until security officers rushed them out.
"We didn't know what to think, we were all in shock," Wainestock told Reuters.
The situation was traumatic, said her father, David Wainestock, who rushed to the Jewish center to retrieve her.
"The thought of something like that happening is terrifying. In the Midwest we think we're safe from this type of thing. But I guess it doesn't make any difference now."
"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 Kansas City area has a Jewish community of about 20,000.
-Reuters and Los Angeles Times contributed to this reportCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun