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WHAT OTHERS SAY: Senseless act of violence takes three lives at K.C. Jewish center

Monday, April 14, 2014 | 12:50 p.m. CDT

Sunday is a day for family visits at the Village Shalom retirement center in Overland Park.

At the nearby Jewish Community Center, which carries the name of one faith but opens its doors to all, it’s a day for exercise, play rehearsals and children on the autism spectrum and their parents gathering for a weekly fitness program.

Sunday was a day of love and expectation and community — all shattered by one deranged armed individual.

He struck at 1 p.m., firing multiple shots outside the community center and killing two persons — William Lewis Corporon and his 14-year-old grandson, Reat Griffin Underwood.

The gunman then proceeded to Village Shalom, a skilled nursing and assisted living facility, and fatally shot a 53-year-old occupational therapist Terri LaManno in the parking lot.

Police apprehended a suspect, known as Frazier Glenn Cross, about 2:45 p.m. outside a nearby elementary school. In his 70s, the suspect has a long history of ties to the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi organizations, with a record including past convictions. Authorities were investigating the killings as possible hate crimes.

And so, on a rainy Sunday, Overland Park became the location of a shocking act of violence that happens with appalling frequency in the United States.

It has happened on U.S. military bases, in our schools, at shopping malls and on the streets — attacks that leave innocent people dead and wounded, and communities stunned and heartbroken.

This kind of headline should not be the norm, and no family or community should have to endure this sorrow. Yet we as a nation seem paralyzed at the prospect of dealing with it.

Even the most modest attempt to curb firearm violence is rebuffed by the gun lobby and its political allies. Talk about helping the mentally ill is rarely backed up with sufficient resources to make a difference.

Police are investigating whether the gunman targeted the two centers because they are associated with the Jewish faith. Some reports said the gunman was heard making anti-Semitic remarks.

It is a source of unending grief that some individuals will target persons of certain faiths or ethnicities. They harbor old hatreds, unable to celebrate a vibrant landscape of diversity and fellowship.

The Jewish Community Center is a local treasure — a place where all faiths are welcomed. At least two of the victims Sunday attended a United Methodist Church.

Attacks against Jewish-affiliated centers have an ugly, long history, and so preparedness is essential. That became clear on Sunday, as staffs at both facilities apparently responded to the shootings calmly and professionally.

On the eve of Passover, one of the most celebrated Jewish holidays, anger and grief spread across this area and beyond. Passover calls Jews to gather Monday evening for a ritual meal and prayer to celebrate liberation from slavery.

Liberation from gun violence is far less clear.

By Sunday evening, interfaith prayer services and vigils began to seek support and healing. Those are necessary events, and they speak volumes about the good will of this region.

But this senseless violence is becoming far too routine. We cannot accept the deaths of innocent people as a part of living in a free country.

While seeking healing, we must also seek the causes of such evil and ways to expunge it.

Copyright The Kansas City Star. Reprinted with permission.


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