Three people were killed on Sunday afternoon at two prominent Jewish facilities in suburban Kansas City, by a single shooter who was later taken into custody and was being held in a local jail.
Police officials said that the suspect was a white man in his seventies. He allegedly drove first to the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Kansas City where he opened fire twice, killing two men with his weapon before driving away to a nearby Jewish retirement home where he shot and killed a third victim.
This latest shooting spree to hit America, which is likely to be investigated as a hate crime or possibly as an act of terrorism, occurred on the eve of the start on Monday of Passover, one the most important holidays in the Jewish calendar. Sources said that shooter did not appear to have been known by anyone at the community centre, which is in Overland Park, a large suburb on the southern edge of the city.
There were unconfirmed early reports that once he had been taken into custody the suspect began yelling Nazi expletives including “ Heil Hitler”. Police said a shotgun was involved. The two facilities were minutes’ drive away from each other.
“The timing is terrible. The timing is awful,” said Robert Mandl, a Rabbi for the local police department in Overland Park, where the community centre is located. A teenage boy was believed to have been one of two male victims killed outside at the back of the community centre. One was in his car when he was shot. The third victim, killed at the Shalom Retirement Community, in Leawood, Kansas, was believed to have been an elderly woman.
“We are investigating it as a hate crime, we are investigating as a criminal act, we are not ruling out anything,” John Douglass the Overland Park police chief said during a late afternoon press conference. Rabbi Mandl said that before firing on the victims at the community centre the shooter asked them if they were Jewish or not.