UPDATED: April 14, 2014 9:06 a.m.
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The man accused of killing three people in attacks at a Jewish community center and Jewish retirement complex near Kansas City is a well-known white supremacist and former Ku Klux Klan leader who was once the subject of a nationwide manhunt.
Frazier Glenn Cross, of Aurora, Mo., was booked into Johnson County jail on a preliminary charge of first-degree murder after the attacks Sunday in Overland Park.
At a news conference Sunday afternoon, Overland Park police Chief John Douglass declined to publicly identify the man suspected in the attacks. But an official at the suburban Kansas City jail, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the case, identified the suspect as 73-year-old Frazier Glenn Cross, of Aurora, Mo.
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 whether 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. … Again, we’re three hours into it,” he said.
SITE, a U.S.-based terror monitoring group, described the suspect as a known and vocal anti-Semite who frequently calls for genocide against Jews.
According to police, the attacks happened within minutes of one another. At around 1 p.m. a gunman shot two people in the parking lot behind the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City. He then drove a few blocks away to a Jewish retirement community, Village Shalom, and gunned down a woman or girl there, Douglass said. Officers arrested him in an elementary school parking lot a short time later.
Police said the attacks at both sites happened outside, and that the gunman never entered any buildings. Douglass said the gunman also shot at two other people during the attacks, but missed.
Authorities declined to release the victims’ names pending notification of their relatives, and the identity of the person shot at the retirement community was still not public early Monday. However, the family of the first two victims put out a statement identifying them as Dr. William Lewis Corporon, who died at the scene, and his 14-year-old grandson, Reat Griffin Underwood, who died at Overland Park Regional Medical Center.
They were both Christian, and the family thanked members of their church congregation, among other people, for their support.
“We take comfort knowing they are together in Heaven,” the family said. It asked for privacy to mourn.
Rebecca Sturtevant, a hospital spokeswoman, said family members told her Corporon had taken his grandson to the community center so that the boy could try out for a singing competition for high school students. Reat was a freshman at Blue Valley High School and an Eagle Scout.
Although the suspect was booked under the last name Cross, he is also known as Frazier Glenn Miller. A public records search shows he has used both names, but he refers to himself on his website as Glenn Miller and went by the name Frazier Glenn Miller in 2006 and 2010 campaigns for public office.
Cross lives in a small single-story home bordered on three sides with barbed wire fences in the small southwest Missouri town of Aurora, some 180 miles south of Overland Park. A red Chevrolet adorned with Confederate flag stickers was parked outside. An AP reporter knocked on the front door of the house early Monday but no one answered.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, said it reached his wife, Marge, by phone and that she said authorities had been to their home and told her that her husband had been arrested in Sunday’s attacks.
Calls by The Associated Press to a contact number listed on Cross’ website rang busy or unanswered.
According to the law center, the suspect has been involved in the white supremacist movement for most of his life. He founded the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and was its “grand dragon” in the 1980s. The Army veteran and retired truck driver later founded another white supremacist group, the White Patriot Party, the center said.
He was the subject of a nationwide manhunt in 1987 for violating the terms of his bond while appealing a North Carolina conviction for operating a paramilitary camp. The search ended after federal agents found Cross — then known as Miller — and three other men in an Ozark mobile home, which was filled with hand grenades, automatic weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition. He tried running for U.S. House in 2006 and the U.S. Senate in 2010, espousing a white power platform each time.
SITE said Monday that the suspect is a prominent member of the Vanguard News Network and has posted thousands of messages — including frequent calls for genocide against Jews — on the neo-Nazi forum’s website. His most recent post was Saturday.
President Barack Obama offered condolences Sunday night to the families of those killed and said he has asked his White House team to make sure law enforcement authorities have “the necessary resources to support the ongoing investigation.”
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