NEW YORK — Prosecutors said Monday 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, Kan.
Speaking at a news conference on Monday in the suburb of Overland Park, Kan., the authorities said 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 federal grand jury.
“We believe this to be a hate crime,” the 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’s hatred for specific races or ethnic groups. Although Douglass has had run-ins with police before, including charges involving weapons and threats, there is little evidence that the Army veteran and retired trucker ever resorted to violence before Sunday.
The FBI and police have not offered any public explanation for what triggered the rampage on the eve of the festival of Passover. Though Cross appeared to have wanted to target Jewish people, none of the three people who died were 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, in Overland Park, 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 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.
The federal hate-crimes law is 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 US 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.
Word of the shooting brought an outpouring of condolences and concern from around the world. Speaking at an Easter prayer breakfast, President Obama said Monday that religious violence had no place in America.
“Nobody should have to worry about their security when gathering with their fellow believers,” Obama 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 Associated Press reported Monday that there was no answer at Cross’s last known address in Aurora, Mo. The single-story house is bordered on three sides by barbed-wire fences. A red Chevrolet pickup truck with two Confederate flag stickers was parked in front of the house.
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 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 settling 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.
Cross made several unsuccessful runs for public office, including a run for the US House in 2006 and one for the Senate in 2010.
He kept a website where he espoused views of white supremacy and eschewed racial mixing. He was a fan of David Duke, a white nationalist and a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, and Louis Farrakhan, the former leader of the Nation of Islam who blamed Jews for slavery in America.
In a 2010 radio interview with Howard Stern, who is Jewish, Cross was asked whom he hated more, Jews or African-Americans.
Cross answered “Jews. A thousand times more. Compared to our Jewish problem, all other problems are mere distractions.”
Prodded to explain, he said Jews controlled the federal government, mass media, and the Federal Reserve Bank. “And with those powers, they’re committing genocide against the white race,” he said.