Prosecutors said Monday that they would file hate-crime charges against a white supremacist accused of killing three people outside a Jewish Community Center and at a nearby retirement community in a suburb of Kansas City.
Speaking at a news conference Monday in Overland Park, Kan., authorities said the charges would be filed against Frazier Glenn Cross Jr., 73, of Aurora, Mo., who had spoken and written frequently over the years about his hatred for Jews, blacks, immigrants and others.
Prosecutors declined to say when Cross, who is also known as Frazier Glenn Miller Jr., will be formally charged, but said the case would be presented to a grand jury.
“We believe this to be a hate crime,” Overland Park police Chief John Douglass said. “We believe his motivation was to attack a Jewish facility.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization that tracks hate groups, said Cross was the founder and grand dragon of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
The shooting, Douglass said, was the result of Cross’ hatred for specific races or ethnic groups. Though Cross appeared to have wanted to target Jewish people, none of the three people who died was Jewish.
The dead were identified as William Lewis Corporon, 69, and his 14-year-old grandson, Reat Griffin Underwood, who were shot in the parking lot at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City, and Terri LaManno, 53, of Kansas City, Mo., who was shot at a parking lot at Village Shalom, a senior living community about a mile and a half away, where her mother lived.
Corporon and his grandson were members of a Methodist church, and the authorities said Monday that LaManno was Catholic. LaManno worked at a children’s center for the visually impaired and was visiting her mother at the retirement village.
But the federal hate crimes law was based on a person’s intent, the authorities said, rather than on whether someone from a targeted group has been harmed.
At the news conference, Barry R. Grissom, the U.S. attorney for Kansas, said the case would be presented soon to a grand jury. “We are in a very good place from an evidence standpoint,” Grissom said.
The authorities said the hate-crime charges would be bolstered by “statements that were made” by Cross after the shooting, although they would not confirm whether he had shouted “Heil Hitler” after his arrest, as he appears to have done in a video taken by KMBC, a local television station.
The Southern Poverty Law Center said Sunday that it sued Cross, whom it identified using the Miller surname, in the 1980s for intimidating African-Americans, and he has had several run-ins with the law since then. He served six months in prison after he was held in criminal contempt for violating the terms of the court order that settled that lawsuit.
He also served three years in federal prison for weapons charges and for plotting robberies and the assassination of the law center’s founder, Morris Dees. As part of his plea bargain, he testified against other Klan leaders in a 1988 trial.