Police said it was too early to determine a motive, but they were not ruling out the possibility that the shootings were a hate crime. "We know it's a vicious act of violence. Obviously two Jewish facilities, one might make that assumption," Overland Park Police Chief John Douglass said in a news conference. The FBI has been called in to help with the investigation, he said.

The shootings started around 1 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City in Overland Park, Kansas. Two males were shot in a parking lot outside the center, one dying at the scene and the other later at a hospital, police said. The shooter then drove just a mile (1.6 km) away to the  Village Shalom retirement community that provides skilled nursing services for residents and fatally shot a female there, Douglass said.

The two male victims were a 14-year-old high school freshman and his grandfather, according to Glen Shoup, an executive pastor at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, where the two were members. The church announced their deaths in services on Sunday evening.

Two other people were shot at, but not hit, the police chief said. He said it appears the shooter used a shotgun and possibly other types of guns.

The suspect, a bearded white man in his 70s, was taken into custody in the parking lot of a nearby elementary school, Douglass said. The police chief declined to identify the
suspect, but said he was not from Kansas.

 

Douglass said he could not confirm reports from witnesses that the suspect had yelled "Heil Hitler" while in the back of the squad car after being taken into custody.

"The suspect in the back of a car made several statements," Douglass said. "We are sifting  hrough and vetting those for accuracy, number one, and number two we are looking at them for their evidentiary value."

The Jewish Community Center, which is also the site of Kansas City's only Jewish community day school, the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy, was a hub of activity on Sunday.

Several youth groups were meeting, some people were auditioning in the facility's theater for a music production, people were exercising in the center's gym, and the academy was
preparing for a school dance. Many non-Jewish people regularly participate in the facility's activities.

Bailey Wainestock, 16, was one of nine teenagers attending a youth organization meeting at the community center when the shooting took place. They barricaded the door and remained locked in for more than an hour until security officers rushed them out.

"We didn't know what to think, we were all in shock," Wainestock told Reuters.
The situation was traumatic, said her father, David Wainestock, who rushed to the Jewish center to retrieve her. "The thought of something like that happening is terrifying.
In the Midwest we think we're safe from this type of thing. But I guess it doesn't make any difference now."

Rabbi David Glickman, of the Beth Shalom synagogue in Overland Park, was at home preparing for the Jewish Passover holiday when he heard the news of the shooting.
"Everybody is shocked that it would happen here," said Glickman. "This is a community that enjoys very strong and positive relations between the Jewish community and the rest of the community."

Obama offers condolences

President Barack Obama is offering condolences to the families of those killed in shootings
outside a Jewish community center and a retirement village in Kansas.

Obama says he has asked his White House team to make sure law enforcement authorities have "the necessary resources to support the ongoing investigation." He is pledging the full
support of the federal government during what he called "this trying time."

Obama says reports of the shootings were "heartbreaking."

 (Agencies)

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