This is absolutely ghastly — and on the eve of Passover.
A gunmen is in police custody after shootings at two Jewish Community Centers resulted in at least 3 dead and one teenage boy critically injured.
Three people were killed Sunday when a gunman opened fire at the Jewish Community Center and a senior living facility in Johnson County.
Police arrested the suspected shooter outside Valley Park Elementary nearby by 2:45 p.m. He smiled and reportedly made anti-semitic statements as he was led away.
The victims were killed in gunfire at the center at 5801 W. 115th Street and the Village Shalom senior living facility 5500 W. 123rd St. about 1 p.m.
The gunfire at the west side of the Jewish Community Center came as hundreds of high school singers from across the metro area were expected to audition for the KC SuperStar contest and actors were rehearsing for a production of “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
“There were tons of kids because this was about to start at 1 o’clock,” said Ruth Bigus, the publicist for KC SuperStar.
Parents were gathered at a nearby fast food restaurant waiting for word while the campus was locked down.
Matt Davis was shopping for bar mitzvah suits with his son when he heard about the shooting at the Jewish Community Center, where his daughter was dancing. He headed to the center and saw the suspect, a heavyset man in handcuffs, being arrested at the school nearby. The man was smiling.
“I was wondering why is the guy smiling when he’s being arrested,” Davis said.
The unidentified suspect shouted “Heil Hitler” to reporters as he was led away by police.
What’s impressive is that there appeared to be well planned, perhaps even rehearsed emergency procedures for just such an eventuality:
With urgency — “Let’s go, let’s go!” — staff hustled about 60 people into a room where they were preparing to hold the SuperStars auditions, Nessel said.
“They did a great job,” he said. “It was not a panic, it was ‘We have a procedure here, let’s follow it,’ ” he said.
The community center staff kept the group informed as best they could. After about 15 minutes in the room, a worker came in and told them, “There’s been a shooting in the parking lot between here and Sprint. We’ll keep you on lockdown. You’re safe here. The police are on top of the situation,” Nessel recounted.
“That’s what you want to hear, that we’re safe,” he said.
Later, someone explained to them that the situation had been cleared up but said they had to stay a while longer while invesigators combed the area for evidence. In all, they were locked down for about an hour and a half.
It will be a melancholy Passover across the land this week.