Nation & World

Suspect in three Kansas killings could face federal hate crime charges

State and federal officials are conducting a dual investigation into the hate crime shootings that killed three people Sunday outside Jewish centers in Overland Park, authorities announced Monday.

Frazier Glenn Cross Jr., 73, of Aurora, Mo., — who is better known as Fraizer Glenn Miller — could be charged as soon as Tuesday in Johnson County District Court, where he likely will face murder counts. An announcement will be made Tuesday morning, said District Attorney Steve Howe.

Miller will face hate crime charges in federal court, based on allegations that he was motivated by bias, said Barry Grissom, the U.S. attorney for Kansas.

“We are in a very good place from an evidence standpoint and will present the case to a grand jury in the not-too-distant future,” Grissom said in a press conference in Overland Park.

Asked whether others could have been involved in the shootings, FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael Kaste said the investigation is focused on Miller.

“We will look everywhere the evidence takes us,” said Kaste, who oversees the bureau’s Kansas City office.

Miller has made statements to investigators, but authorities would not reveal those comments Monday. The southwest Missouri man long has been known for deeply anti-Semitic and racist statements. He was a Ku Klux Klan grand dragon at one time and founded the White Patriot Party in the 1980s.

Reat Griffin Underwood, 14, and his grandfather, William Lewis Corporon, 69, were killed about 1 p.m. outside the Jewish Community Center, where Reat planned to audition as part of a contest. Reat was a freshman at Blue Valley High School. His grandfather was a physician.

Terri LaManno, 53, of Kansas City was killed at the Village Shalom assisted living facility in Overland Park. She went there every Sunday to visit her mother, a resident of the facility, authorities said.

Reat and his grandfather were Methodists. LaManno was a Catholic.

Overland Park police received 28 emergency calls shortly after the shootings. Those calls, many of which included a description of the shooter’s car, helped police arrest the suspect quickly, Police Chief John Douglass said Monday.

He asked anyone with information that could help investigators to call police at 913-895-6910 or the FBI at 816-512-8200.

On Monday, two public defenders in Kansas were appointed to represent Miller in any federal hate-crimes prosecution.

Kansas Federal Public Defender Melody Brannon Evans and Kirk Redmond, her first assistant, will represent him should he be charged in a criminal complaint or, later, by grand jury indictment.

And should federal prosecutors decide to seek the death penalty, which would come at the end of an arduous and long process both here and in Washington D.C., Evans and Redmond would continue to represent Miller. Both have worked capital cases and are qualified to do so under federal rules.

LaManno’s family on Monday referred questions to friend Brian Fowler, who described her as a beautiful lady who was devoted to her husband and children.

LaManno worked as an occupational therapist at the Children’s Center for the Visually Impaired.

The LaMannos are long-time parishioners at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Kansas City, where a rosary was said for Terri LaManno after Monday morning Mass. Pastor Steve Cook asked parishioners to remember her and her family in their prayers.

“She was a loving mother and wife, and a gentle and giving woman,” a statement released by the church said. “She will be greatly missed by our community. St. Peter’s parish family is coming together to support and comfort Terri’s family and all who loved her, during this very difficult time.

“Our prayers are with the families of the other victims, and all who have been touched by this senseless tragedy. We ask God’s special blessing on our Jewish brothers and sisters as they approach their sacred season of Passover.

“As we enter our Holy Week, we take courage from the promise of Christ’s resurrection. We pray for peace and all those who suffer from violence. We thank all those who have expressed their support for Terri and her family, and ask for their continued support and prayers.”

The Children’s Center for the Visually Impaired also released a statement Monday morning:

“The Kansas City community has experienced a great loss. Terri LaManno, occupational therapist at CCVI for eight years, was a victim of the senseless shooting yesterday at Village Shalom. Terri was a gracious, generous, skilled, and deeply caring individual who made a great difference in the lives of so many children and their families with whom she worked at CCVI. She will forever be missed by all of us in the CCVI family.”

Fowler said that LaManno has an older daughter, Jennifer, and two children who are college students. Alissa attends Missouri State University and Gian attends Kansas State University.

The case also has drawn national attention. President Barack Obama issued a statement Sunday.

On Monday, Attorney General Eric Holder released a statement:

“I was horrified to learn of this weekend’s tragic shootings outside Kansas City. These senseless acts of violence are all the more heartbreaking as they were perpetrated on the eve of the solemn occasion of Passover. Justice Department prosecutors will work with their state and local counterparts to provide all available support and to determine whether the federal hate crimes statute is implicated in this case. “No matter what, we will do everything in our power to ensure justice is served in this case on behalf of the victims and their families. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by these heinous acts.”

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum also issued a statement Monday extending condolences to the victims and families

“The alleged perpetrator is a white supremacist and former leader of the Ku Klux Klan,” the statement said. “In 2009, the Museum was targeted by a racist and Holocaust denier who murdered our friend and colleague Special Officer Stephen Tyrone Johns. These tragic events demonstrate the continuing need to combat hatred and antisemitism in all of their forms.”

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