Suspected Kansas Shooter Had Ties To KKK
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
We're learning more about the man who is suspected of killing three people at a Jewish community center and retirement home in suburban Kansas City. Frazier Glenn Cross Jr. is a well-known neo-Nazi. People who monitor activities of hate groups say that Cross spent much of his life calling for attacks on Jews. He faces state murder charges and likely hate crime charges in federal court. Frank Morris of member station KCUR reports.
FRANK MORRIS, BYLINE: The shootings started about 1:00 Central Time yesterday with shotgun blasts that killed two people behind the Jewish community center in Overland Park, Kansas. More gunfire and another homicide followed at a nearby Jewish retirement home. Police found their suspect, Frazier Glenn Cross Jr., shortly thereafter. Cross is widely known as Glenn Miller now, but the local police didn't recognize him. The 73-year-old lives in southern Missouri, a three-hour drive from the crime scenes. Police got a quick lesson in Miller's neo-Nazi ideology, though, as he sat in the back of a police cruiser after his arrest. A crew from KNBC-TV caught Miller screaming a salute to Adolf Hitler.
GLENN MILLER: Heil Hitler.
LEONARD ZESKIND: I've been aware of Glenn Miller since about 1984.
MORRIS: Leonard Zeskind is a Kansas City area author who's followed hate groups closely for more than three decades. Reached on a cell phone in London today, Zeskind says that Miller was staging rallies and spreading fear.
ZESKIND: He was leading a group of Carolina Ku Klux Klansmen into becoming the White Patriot Party in North Carolina.
MILLER: I'm concerned about my people, white people, my ancestors. (Inaudible) say white power.
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: White power.
MORRIS: Zeskind says the government forced Miller to disband his paramilitary organization in North Carolina but busted him in Missouri, reportedly using teargas to drive him from a mobile home packed with hand grenades, automatic weapons, and ammo. In 1988, Miller cut a deal with prosecutors, testifying against other white supremacists.
ZESKIND: Glenn Miller got off with the short prison term and escaped relatively freely.
MORRIS: With many of his former colleagues now against him, Miller eventually went online to spew his hate.
SAM TAYLOR: He would espouse the racial genocide. He would fantasize about the murdering of Jewish people.
MORRIS: That's Sam Taylor, who monitors white supremacists for the SITE Intelligence Group. He says the man calling himself Glenn Miller raised money for other neo-Nazis, including serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin, who murdered mixed-race couples, fire bombed a synagogue and shot up another one, killing one man. Then four years ago, Miller ran for U.S. Senate in Missouri, complete with radio ads.
MILLER: We've sat back and allowed the Jews to take over our government and our banks and our media.
MORRIS: Leonard Zeskind says he'd discussed Miller at forums at the very Jewish Community Center where the two of the murders took place yesterday.
ZESKIND: Someone who was a Hitlerite, who was in the southwest Missouri area, and a potential threat among other white nationalists and neo-Nazis in the area who are still there and still a potential problem.
MORRIS: And Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, says these terrorists pose a multi-ethnic threat.
MARK POTOK: Well, the irony is absolutely incredible. The man who allegedly carried this out spent his entire life hating Jews and accusing them of being behind every bad thing in the universe. You know, he goes to two Jewish community centers and winds up murdering two Methodists and a Catholic.
MORRIS: Miller's victims are 53-year-old Teresa Lamanno, 14-year-old Reat Underwood, and his 69-year-old grandfather, William Corporon. Those who monitor hate crimes say yesterday's shootings are a reminder that militant white supremacists who've killed scores from Birmingham, to Norway, to Oklahoma City, haven't gone away. For NPR News, I'm Frank Morris in Kansas City.