Just hours after a white supremacist allegedly murdered three people at a Jewish community center and a Jewish retirement home outside Kansas City, the local police chief insisted that nothing could have been done to stop the shootings.
“This was, unfortunately, totally unexpected,” Overland Park Police Chief John Douglass told a news conference. “If we had the slightest hint it was going to happen, we would have done everything we could to stop it.”
Yet the arrest came as less than a shock for anti-extremist investigators who have tracked Frazier Glenn Cross, also known as Frazier Glenn Miller, since the 1970s.
“I thought, ‘Wow, someone I’m so familiar with has done something so heinous,’” said Heidi Beirich, who leads the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project. “On the other hand, what do you expect? These views drive a lot of people to do this kind of violence.”
Beirich’s group has clashed repeatedly with Miller since the 1980s, and she knew him particularly well. Last fall, while trying to get in touch with racist serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin, Beirich had a series of hour-long conversations with Miller, who knew Franklin. Despite knowing that Beirich was an investigator for the SPLC, the white supremacist was eager to talk to her.
“He was trying to convince me about how evil the Jews are, basically,” Beirich said of her conversations with Miller. “When you talk to him on the phone, he sounded like an older man who had crazy, scary views. You don’t expect someone who’s 73 years old to pick up a gun and do this.”
The alleged assailant shot William Lewis Corporon and his 14-year-old grandson, Reat Griffin Underwood, in the parking lot of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City at around 1 p.m. on April 13.
A short time later, a woman identifies as 53-year-old Terri LeManno was shot in the parking lot of Village Shalom, a nearby Jewish retirement home where her mother lives.