Attorney general speaks at memorial service for victims of shooting

At a community memorial service today for three victims of tragic shootings April 13 at the parking lot of the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, Kan., U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder urged people “to bring hope and help to those around us; to create a more loving society; and to help forge a more just existence.”
Holder told the persons gathered at the memorial service, “We are united in our condemnation of this heinous attack – and our commitment to see that justice is served.”
Reat Griffin Underwood, William Corporon and Terri LaManno died after being shot Sunday, April 13. The suspect is a white supremacist from Aurora, Mo., who faces murder charges.
Holder was among several speakers at the memorial service, from different faiths and backgrounds, urging people to take positive steps toward helping others.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback also issued a statement today on the tragedy.
“Kansans of all ages, faiths and race have united in the aftermath of this tragedy, inspired by the strength shown by the families of Reat, William and Terri,” Gov. Brownback said in the statement. “The greatest tribute we can offer them is through our own renewed commitment to understanding and compassion.”

The text of Attorney General Holder’s speech:
“It is a privilege to be here today.  And it’s an honor to stand, and to pray, with this community as we pay tribute – and our last respects – to the three remarkable people who were taken from us just a few short days ago.
“Terri LaManno was a dedicated occupational therapist; a loving wife to her husband, Jim – with whom she should have celebrated her 25th anniversary on Tuesday; and a wonderful mother to their three children.  She was also a devoted daughter who traveled, every Sunday, to visit her mother at Village Shalom.
“William Lewis Corporon was a highly-respected physician who moved to Johnson County from Oklahoma to be closer to his grandchildren.  He cherished his family and dedicated his life to helping others.  And he planned to spend a portion of last Sunday bringing his talented grandson, Reat Griffin Underwood – a 14-year-old Eagle Scout with a beautiful voice and a passion for theater and debate – to a singing competition.
“But on Sunday afternoon, as they and others went about their daily business, and as Kansas City’s thriving Jewish population prepared for the festival of Passover – this community was targeted by a senseless and unspeakable act of violence.  And Terri, William, and Reat were taken from us – far too suddenly, and far too soon.
“In the midst of what ought to be a time of celebration – when Jewish families, often joined by relatives and friends of different faiths, come together to retell the story of the Exodus from Egypt – this community has instead been visited by terrible tragedy.  In this celebratory holy week when Christian families, often joined by relatives and friends, come together to proclaim their faith, a pall has been cast over our great nation.  And so we gather not in joy, but in solemn reflection – and in remembrance of those whose lives have been cut short.
“We mourn the untimely losses of Terri, William, and Reat – and all that their futures should have held.  We grieve for the friends and family members who knew them best and loved them most.  And we pledge that we will support you – as one community and one nation – not only in sorrow, but in strength; united by tragedy, but bound together by unyielding resolve in the face of hate-fueled violence.
“Every alleged hate crime, no matter the intended target, is an affront to who we are – and who we have always been – both as a country and as a people.  These acts cannot be ignored.  And their impact is not limited to particular communities or individuals.
“That’s why, today – although our hearts are broken – all Americans stand with the people of Overland Park, of Leawood, and of Kansas City.  We are united in our condemnation of this heinous attack – and our commitment to see that justice is served.  We are inspired by the resilience of this community, the strength of those who lost loved ones, and the stories of heroism that emerged from Sunday’s tragic events – from the passersby and staff members who helped warn others about the danger, to the brave law enforcement officials who raced to apprehend the suspect – and prevented this horrific incident from becoming even more deadly.
“In these acts of valor and selflessness are written the true story of what happened here – a story of light emerging from terrible darkness; a community rising above senseless violence; and a diverse group of people accepting the responsibility that all of us share:  to respond to intolerance and anti-Semitism not by pushing one another away, but by drawing each other close.
“The Jewish religion speaks of a concept called “tikkun olam,” which means “repairing the world.”  These words may be unfamiliar to some, but the idea is universal to people of every faith:  that it is incumbent upon each of us to bring hope and help to those around us; to create a more loving society; and to help forge a more just existence.
“At times – particularly on days like this one, when we stand in the shadow of such mindless destruction – I know it can seem as though the world is irreparably broken; that it is fractured beyond repair.  But all of us here, in this moment – surrounded by the people we love, and held in the hearts of innumerable others – we are a testament to the limitless desire in this country for healing, for compassion, and for peace.  And we reaffirm the spirit of fellowship that has always held this nation of immigrants together – and defined diversity as our single greatest strength.
“A few days ago, many of you observed the beginning of Passover, marking the start of a long and difficult journey from tyranny and persecution toward freedom in the Promised Land.  Today, this community begins its own journey of healing.  And although the road ahead will not be easy, I promise you that I, and millions of others throughout our nation, will be here to walk alongside you – not only today, but always.  We will never stop fighting for justice.  And we will never forget the names, or the stories, of those we lost.
“Terri, William, and Reat will live on in our hearts, and in the cherished memories of all who knew them.  They will live on in their children, their friends, and countless others whose lives they touched.  And they will live on in the work that we begin – here, today – to repair the world and forge a future that is worthy of their joy, their passion, and their love.
“This world will be their legacy.  And we will build it together.
“Thank you, once again, for allowing me to be here.  God bless you.  And may God bless the United States of America.”

Murder charges filed in connection with Jewish Community Center slayings

Murder charges were filed today in Johnson County District Court against a white supremacist, Frazier Glenn Cross Jr., in connection with the killings of three persons Sunday at the parking lot of the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park.

Authorities said that the suspect, also known as Frazier Glenn Miller, was charged with one count of capital murder and a count of first-degree premeditated murder, and also might face federal charges later in connection with hate crimes.

The suspect, 73, is from Aurora, Mo., and has a long history of involvement in white supremacist groups, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Bond was set at $10 million.

The Johnson County killings were mentioned today in a message to Congress by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, requesting $15 million in funding for active shooter training for law enforcement officers to help them to respond to mass shooting incidents. The training would be for front-line officers.


Community service planned in response to shootings

A community service is planned in response to the shootings at the Jewish Community Center parking lot on Sunday.

The Interfaith Communal Service of Unity and Hope will be a 45-minute service at 10 a.m. Thursday, April 17, at the Jewish Community Center, White Theatre, 5801 W. 115 St., Overland Park, Kan.

Clergy from across the Kansas City area will lead prayers of solace, healing and hope, according to an announcement today from the Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City.

Messages of condolences have poured in from throughout the nation, including from President Obama, to community residents and to the victims’ families.

U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-3rd Dist., sent out this message:

“On Palm Sunday and the eve of Passover, our entire community was shocked to learn of a horrific act of hate that led to the deaths of three of our beloved community members.

“I was heartbroken to learn of the shootings at the Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom in Overland Park. Brooke and I are praying for the families and victims of this tragedy and our office continues to stand ready to provide needed assistance.

“While facts are being gathered by local and national law enforcement, it is difficult to accept and understand the answers to many questions surrounding the senseless act of hate that was committed.

“During these most difficult times, a tight-knit and caring community is often our best source of support and comfort. Overland Park and the entire Greater Kansas City area is a shining example of family in community. We will comfort each other, support each other, and help each other through this tragedy.

“What happened on Sunday may have broken our hearts, but it has stiffened our resolve. We go forward unified in thought, word and deed.

“Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims lost.”