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Holder: Americans stand with Kansas City mourners

April 17, 2014
Associated Press

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — All Americans stand with the mourners of three people killed at Jewish community sites in suburban Kansas City, Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday, adding that hate crimes are "an affront to the nation."

Before an overflow crowd of about 1,300, Holder joined Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and several religious and political leaders at an interfaith memorial service at the Jewish Community Center, the site of one of two shootings that stunned the city on the eve of Passover.

Avowed white supremacist Frazier Glenn Cross, 73, is charged with the killings Sunday of Dr. William Lewis Corporon and his 14-year-old grandson, Reat Griffin Underwood, outside the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City. Cross shouted "heil Hitler" at television cameras as he was arrested after the shootings.

Cross is also accused of killing Terri LaManno at a nearby Jewish retirement complex shortly after the shootings at the Jewish Community Center. Her funeral is Thursday. All three victims were Christian.

"A pall has been cast over our great nation. And so we gather today, not in joy, but in solemn reflection," Holder said.

"Every alleged hate crime, no matter who the intended target, is an affront to who we are ... both as a country and as people. These acts cannot be ignored," Holder said.

"Although our hearts are truly broken, all Americans stand with the people of Overland Park, of Leawood, and of Kansas City. We are united in our condemnation of this heinous attack and our commitment to see that justice is served," he said.

Federal prosecutors say there's enough evidence to warrant putting the case before a grand jury as a hate crime, but U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said Tuesday that federal charges were likely a week or more away. Cross' state case would have to be resolved before he could be moved to a federal trial.

Corporon and Underwood, a high school freshman, were at the JCC for the "KC Superstar" competition, an American Idol-like singing contest for high school students. LaManno, a mother of three, worked as an occupational therapist at the Children's Center for the Visually Impaired.

Mindy Corporon, mother of Reat Underwood and the daughter of William Corporon, did not attend the service because she felt it too soon to return to the community center, said Rev. Adam Hamilton, the Corporon family's minister.

Rabbi Arthur P. Nemitoff of Congregation of B'nai Jehudah told the crowd to love their neighbors as the victims would.

"That is what Terri's and Reat's and William's families need today, and is that which our community needs," Nemitoff said. "We need to love each other as we love ourselves. We need to love life, love faith, love people, for that is as I have read and heard who William and Reat and Terri were. All lovers of life."

Michael Peck, pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Overland Park, attended the service and said the shootings "ripped a hole in the fabric of our community."

"I think it's important that we get together ... and recognize that our bonds go deeper than cultural differences and religious differences," he said.

As federal prosecutors pursue their investigation, Cross, who is also known as Frazier Glenn Miller, already faces two counts of murder in Kansas.

One of the narrow circumstances in which capital murder cases are pursued in Kansas includes the intentional killing of more than one person in "the same act or transaction or in two or more acts or transactions connected together or constituting parts of a common scheme or course of conduct."

In this case, a single charge was applied to the deaths of Corporon and his grandson because the deaths occurred in a very short period of time as part of the same act, prosecutors said. LaManno's death doesn't meet the standard for capital murder, prosecutors have said without elaborating on the evidence leading to that conclusion.

 
 

 

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