Kansas shooting suspect had history of racism
But no record of violence, according to authorities
In this Sunday, April 13, 2014 image from video provided by KCTV-5, Frazier Glenn Cross, also known as Frazier Glenn Miller, is escorted by police in an elementary school parking lot in Overland Park, Kan. Cross, 73, accused of killing three people in attacks at a Jewish community center and Jewish retirement complex near Kansas City, is a known white supremacist and former Ku Klux Klan leader who was once the subject of a nationwide manhunt. (AP Photo/KCTV-5) MANDATORY CREDIT
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Never one to keep his hatred to himself, Frazier Glenn Cross for decades sought out any soapbox to espouse his white-supremacist beliefs, twice running for federal office with campaigns steeped in anti-Semitism.
Yet there’s scant evidence the Army veteran and retired trucker with Ku Klux Klan links ever resorted to violence before Sunday, when authorities say he opened fire with a shotgun and pistol outside a Jewish community center and retirement complex near Kansas City. None of the three people killed turned out to be Jewish.
The 73-year-old Cross, who shouted a Nazi slogan at television cameras when arrested minutes later, has been jailed awaiting charges that investigators said could come as early as Tuesday. At some point, a federal grand jury is expected to review the slayings, which authorities now deem a hate crime.
U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said the victims “happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time” and had “a firsthand encounter with evil.”
The FBI and police have not offered any public explanation for what triggered Sunday’s deadly outburst in Overland Park on the eve of the Jewish festival of Passover. While the FBI and other law-enforcement agencies were familiar with Cross, Sunday’s gunfire was “very random,” the FBI’s Michael Kaste said.
“We don’t really see how this could have been prevented. There’s at least no obvious answer,” said Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups and had a considerable dossier on Cross. “He is one of the more frightening characters out there, no question about that.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center said Cross, who also went by the name Frazier Glenn Miller, has been immersed in white supremacy most of his life. During the early 1980s, Cross was “one of the more notorious white supremacists in the U.S.,” according to the Anti-Defamation League.
He founded the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and served as its “grand dragon” before launching the supremacist White Patriot Party, the law center said.
By 1987, he was the target of a nationwide manhunt for violating terms of his bond while appealing a North Carolina conviction for operating a paramilitary camp. Federal agents tracked him along with three other men to a rural Missouri mobile home stocked with hand grenades, automatic weapons and thousands of bullets.
A federal grand jury indicted Cross on weapons charges and accused him of plotting robberies and the assassination of the law center’s founder, Morris Dees. He then served three years in federal prison. As part of a plea bargain, he testified against other Klan leaders in a 1988 sedition trial.
Cross ran for the U.S. House in 2006 and the U.S. Senate in 2010, each time espousing a white-power platform.
During his Senate run as a registered write-in candidate, Cross’ effort to air anti-Semitic ads was scuttled by the Federal Communications Commission, which concluded Cross was not a “bona fide” candidate entitled to mandatory access to the state’s airwaves. The ruling allowed Missouri broadcasters to reject his ads, such as one that urged white people to “unite” and “take our country back.” It also criticized immigrants and minorities.
He’s suspected of killing 69-year-old William Lewis Corporon, a physician, and his 14-year-old grandson, Reat Griffin Underwood, outside the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City. Both were Methodist.
Moments later, Terri LaManno — a 53-year-old Catholic occupational therapist and mother of two — was gunned down outside a Jewish retirement complex where she was visiting her mother.
“It was bound to happen,” said Steven Roberts, who lives in Aurora. “You can’t be that deep into what he was into and not expect something to happen.”