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Three Killed by Gunman at Kansas City-Area Jewish Centers

Shooting in Kansas
The scene outside a Jewish Community Center in Leawood, Kansas, following a shooting, on April 13, 2014. Photographer: John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/MCT via Getty Images

Three people were shot to death at two Kansas City, Kansas-area Jewish facilities a day before the first night of Passover.

The gunman, a white man in his 70s who didn’t live in the area, killed two people at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City and one at the Village Shalom Retirement Center, both in Overland Park, Kansas, before being taken into custody today at a nearby school, said John Douglass, police chief of Overland Park, at a press conference televised on CNN.

“It’s a vicious act of violence,” said Douglass.

The gunman was said to have made anti-Semitic comments as he was led away, the Kansas City Star reported. The case was being investigated as a possible hate crime, said Douglass, though he said other motives haven’t been ruled out.

ABC News reported the suspect was a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, citing law enforcement sources and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Douglass declined to provide names of the suspect or victims. He said the Federal Bureau of Investigation was assisting his department.

The initial call came about 1 p.m. local time after the first shots were fired at the community center, where two men were killed, said Douglass. The suspect then shot a woman at the retirement center. One shotgun was involved and possibly two other weapons.

“Our hearts go out to the families who have suffered loss on this tragic day,” the community center said in a posting on its Facebook site.

President Barack Obama said in a statement, “I have asked my team to stay in close touch with our federal, state and local partners and provide the necessary resources to support the ongoing investigation.”

Although all of the details surrounding the shooting aren’t yet known, “the initial reports are heartbreaking,” Obama said.

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