(JNS.org) Leading American Jewish groups reacted swiftly with an outpouring of support for the Kansas City Jewish community following Sunday afternoon's shootings.
According to local media reports, three people were killed when a gunman opened fire outside the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City and the senior living facility Village Shalom, both in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park, Kansas.
The Kansas City Star reported that two of the victims were a 14-year-old boy and his grandfather. A total of five people were shot at.
The gunman was described by police as a white male in his 70s who was not from Kansas. A shotgun and handgun were believed to have been used during the shooting spree. The alleged gunman was taken into custody by police outside of a nearby elementary school.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which called the shootings “heinous and unspeakable acts of violence,” said it recently issued a security bulletin to Jewish communities across America for the increased risk of violent attacks on community centers, with both the Passover holiday as well as Hitler’s birthday coming up on April 20, a day that has been marked in the past with violent acts.
It wasn’t immediately clear what the shooters' motive was, but police are treating the incident as a hate crime, as the shooting came on the eve of Passover celebrations.
There were also reports that the shooter shouted “heil Hitler” as he was taken into custody, KSHB Kansas City reported.
“We at the Jewish Federations stand in solidarity with the Jewish community in Kansas City following today’s horrific events, and our sympathies are with the families of the victims,” Michael Siegal, chair of the Jewish Federations of North America, stated.
"Our hearts go out to the victims of this heartbreaking tragedy," said American Jewish Committee Executive Director David Harris.
B’nai B’rith International said it "extends its condolences to the victims, families and entire Jewish community in the Kansas City area after a deadly shooting at the JCC of Greater Kansas City and the Village Shalom assisted living center."
In a statement, the Kansas City Jewish Community Center expressed its "heartfelt gratitude" to "all those in Kansas City and around the world who have expressed sympathy, concern and support."