3 dead in shootings at Jewish centers

By in CNN on April 13, 2014

CNN) — Three people were killed Sunday in shootings at two Jewish facilities near Kansas City, police said.

But it’s too soon to say whether the shootings were a hate crime, Overland Park Police Chief John Douglass told reporters.

“It’s too early in the investigation to try to label it. We know it’s a vicious act of violence. Obviously, at two Jewish facilities, one might make that assumption, but we’re going to have to know more about it,” he said.

The shootings occurred at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City in Overland Park, Kansas, and at the Village Shalom Retirement Community in Leawood, Kansas.

Authorities arrested the suspect at a nearby elementary school after the shootings, Douglass said.

Police are investigating statements that the suspect, a man in his 70s, made in the car after his arrest, he said.

The FBI is at the scene working with local authorities investigating the shootings, FBI spokesman Joel Sealer said.

An Overland Park police officer and Kansas State Trooper guard the entrance of the Jewish Community Center after a shooting in Overland Park, Kansas, on Sunday, April 13.An Overland Park police officer and Kansas State Trooper guard the entrance of the Jewish Community Center after a shooting in Overland Park, Kansas, on Sunday, April 13.
Authorities work behind a police line near the location of a shooting at the Jewish Community Center.Authorities work behind a police line near the location of a shooting at the Jewish Community Center.
A Kansas State Trooper controls traffic at the entrance of the Jewish Community Center after the shooting.A Kansas State Trooper controls traffic at the entrance of the Jewish Community Center after the shooting.
A Kansas State Trooper stands near the location of a shooting at the Jewish Community Center.A Kansas State Trooper stands near the location of a shooting at the Jewish Community Center.
Deadly shooting in Kansas City suburb
Deadly shooting in Kansas City suburb
Deadly shooting in Kansas City suburb
Deadly shooting in Kansas City suburb
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Photos: Deadly shooting in Kansas City suburbPhotos: Deadly shooting in Kansas City suburb

Rabbi Herbert Mandl, a chaplain for the Overland Park Police Department, said the victims included a teenager and an elderly woman.

The shootings, which occurred the night before Passover begins, sound “very much like a hate crime,” he said.

“The timing is terrible. The timing is awful,” Mandl said. “From what I understand from my contacts, this is a one-person event, and this is hopefully under control now.”

One shooting occurred in the Overland Park community center’s parking lot, the center said in a Facebook post.

At the time of the shooting, auditions for a dance competition and dance recitals were being held at the community center, CNN affiliate KSHB reported.

“This was a community center full of young teens, and they were on lockdown after the shots started. Some of these kids were taken into locker rooms and told to lay on the floor as the shots rang out,” KSHB reporter Lisa Benson told CNN.

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