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Jewish Center Shootings

Cops Describe Kansas Jewish Center Shooting Suspect as Old, Bearded

Image: A person was taken into custody at Valley Park Elementary School in relation to the shootings at Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom
A person was taken into custody at Valley Park Elementary School in relation to the shootings at Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom in Overland Park, Kan. KSHB 41 Action News

As another tragic shooting rocks the country, officials in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park, Kan., are left to piece together the background and motivations of one gunman.

A man who police describe as being bearded and in his 70s opened fire outside of two Jewish community centers, killing three people.

A 14-year-old boy and his grandfather died at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City campus and one woman was killed at Village Shalom, a retirement community that is several blocks away from the center, officials said.

Shots were fired at two other people but they were not hurt, police said.

"This man is in his 70s, he is a white male, he has a beard, and outside of that there's not a lot I can confirm," Overland Park Police Chief John Douglass said at a news conference Sunday night.

He also said the man was not from the state. When asked if the suspect was from Missouri, right next door, the chief declined to answer.

"He's not from Kansas, outside of that, I'm not at liberty to say," said Douglass, adding, "We have no indication that he knew the victims."

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Investigators, including agents from the FBI, were still trying to determine a motive for the attacks.

Douglass said it was "too early to label it" a hate crime.

"We know it's a vicious act of violence, we know it's two Jewish fatalities," he said. "You might make that assumption."

The community center posted a Facebook message on Sunday evening that was quickly followed by scores of condolences.

"Our hearts go out to the families who have suffered loss on this tragic day," the message said.

President Obama released a statement Sunday offering thoughts and prayers to the families and friends of the shootings' victims.

"I want to offer my condolences to all the families trying to make sense of this difficult situation and pledge the full support from the federal government as we heal and cope during this trying time."