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Gunman, 73, Kills 3 at Kansas Jewish Centers

Image: Gunman, 73, Kills 3 at Kansas Jewish Centers A police vehicle sits in front of the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, Kan., Sunday. (Getty Images)

By Newsmax Wires   |   Sunday, 13 Apr 2014 05:10 PM

Three people were killed in shootings at Jewish centers in Kansas on Sunday, and a suspect was in custody, police said.

Fraiser Glenn Cross Jr., 73, of Aurora, Mo., was taken into custody in the parking lot of an elementary school near the scene of the shootings, police said.

Cross, who has a long history of anti-Semitic and racist statements, the Kansas City Star reported, was booked into the Johnson County jail at 8:48 p.m. on suspicion of premeditated first-degree murder.

Cross smiled and made an anti-Semitic statement when he was arrested outside Valley Park Elementary near the Jewish Community Center.

The shootings came just one day before the start of Passover, a major Jewish holiday.

"We're investigating it as a hate crime, we're investigating it as a criminal act, we haven't ruled out anything," Overland Park Police Chief John Douglass said, according to an ABC News report

Names of the victims were not released, but Douglass said two males were shot at the Jewish Center of Greater Kansas City while a woman was killed at Village Shalom retirement community one mile away.

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The woman and one of the men died at the scenes, while the other man died at a hospital.

"We have no indication that he knew the victims," Douglass said, adding that the shooter may have fired at two other people and missed.

"There was a shotgun that was involved," he said. "We are exploring the possibility that a handgun was involved in the shooting at the two persons that he missed, and we are looking at the possibility of an assault rifle."

The Rev. Adam Hamilton of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Mo., said the two male victims were members of the church.

Family members identified them Dr. William Lewis Corporan and his 14-year-old grandson, Reat Griffin Underwood. The family is Christian, said Will Corporon, a son of the elder victim.

Police said they did not have a motive for the shootings, but were not ruling out the possibility that the shootings were a hate crime. They have called in the Federal Bureau of Investigation to assist with the investigation, Overland Park Police Chief John Douglass told a news conference.

Douglass said he could not confirm reports that the suspect had said "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."

Rabbi Herbert Mandl, a chaplain for the Overland Park Police Department, told CNN that the incident sounded "very much like a hate crime."

The FBI is investigating the crime along with local authorities, FBI spokesman Joel Sealer told CNN.

KSHB-TV tweeted a photo of a man in custody in a police cruiser.

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The Jewish Community Center posted on its Facebook page that a "shooting incident" happened in the parking lot near its White Theater entrance and the building was on lockdown.

"Our hearts go out to the families who have suffered loss on this tragic day," read a statement from the JCC. "Our heartfelt gratitude as well to all those in Kansas City and around the world who have expressed sympathy, concern and support."

Overland Park Medical Center spokeswoman Christine Hamele said a 15-year-old boy who was brought from the scene of the Jewish Community Center is in critical condition.

Ruth Bigus, a spokeswoman for KC Superstar, a singing competition for high-school students, told the Los Angeles Times.

Bigus added that the facility had been bustling with activity. A production of "To Kill a Mockingbird" was was scheduled for the afternoon.

The JCC, which is also the site of area's only Jewish community day school, the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy, was a hub of activity on Sunday. Several groups were meeting and the academy was preparing for a school dance.

Bailey Wainestock, 16, said she was attending a youth organization meeting with other girls at the community center when they were told it had been locked down due to a shooting. They barricaded the door until security officers rushed them out afterward.

"We didn't know what to think, we were all in shock," Wainestock said in an interview.

Her father, David Wainestock, said the Midwest is supposed to be safe.

"It's pretty traumatic," David Wainestock said. "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."

The accused shooter presented himself in 2010 as a write-in candidate for the U.S. Senate from Missouri, the Kansas City newspaper said. As part of his candidacy, he prepared ads that denounced Jews, blacks, and the federal government. Broadcasters found them so offensive that the Missouri Broadcasters Association got permission from the FCC to ban their use.

AP and Reuters contributed to this report.

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