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Three slain at Jewish centers in Kansas City suburb

  • Article by: MARIA SUDEKUM
  • Associated Press
  • April 13, 2014 - 11:08 PM

– A man opened fire outside a Jewish community center on Sunday, killing two people before driving over to a retirement community a few blocks away and killing someone else, authorities said.

Police arrested the suspect in the parking lot of a nearby elementary school shortly after the shootings, which happened minutes apart about 1 p.m. in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park.

Authorities declined to release the names of the suspect or the victims, pending the notification of their relatives. At a news conference, Overland Park police Chief John Douglass said the suspect is in his 70s, is not from Kansas and wasn’t known to area law enforcement before the attacks. He also said there is no indication that the suspect knew any of the victims.

“Today is a sad and very tragic day,” Douglass said. “As you might imagine we are only three hours into this investigation. There’s a lot of innuendo and a lot of assertions going around.

Not ruling anything out

Douglass said the suspect made several statements to police, “but it’s too early to tell you what he may or may not have said.” He also said it was too early in the investigation to determine whether there was an anti-Semitic motive for the attacks or if they will be investigated as hate crimes. The Jewish festival of Passover begins Monday.

“We are investigating it as a hate crime. We’re investigating it as a criminal act. We haven’t ruled out anything …”

Douglass said the first attack happened in a parking lot behind the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City. The attacker shot two males. One died at the scene and the other died at a hospital. He said the suspect then drove to the nearby retirement community, Village Shalom, where he shot and killed a female. The gunman also shot at two other people during the attacks, but missed them, Douglass said.

Douglass said a shotgun was used in the attacks, and that investigators are also trying to determine if a handgun and assault-style rifle may also have been used.

Police officers were also sent to other Jewish facilities in the area immediately after the shootings, the police chief said.

“We’re not going to give the specifics. … Immediately when we learned we had an active shooter we dispatched vehicles to secure and surveil all the active Jewish facilities in the city and other religious institutions which are not Jewish,” he said.

The suspect was taken to the Johnson County jail. Johnson County District Attorney Stephen Howe, who attended the news conference along with Barry Grissom, U.S. Attorney for Kansas, said it was too soon to know when the suspect would appear in court.

© 2014 Star Tribune