The person of interest in custody for the killing of three people at two Jewish centers is a former Ku Klux Klan leader with a history of antisemitism and racism, law enforcement officials said.
Frazier Glenn Cross, Jr., 73, is suspected of fatally shooting a 14-year-old Eagle Scout and his grandfather in the parking lot at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City campus in Overland Park then gunning down a woman at Village Shalom, a retirement community that is several blocks away from the center, law enforcement officials said.
KSHB reporter Andres Gutierrez told MSNBC that the suspect who was taken away in the back of a police car yelled “Heil Hitler” at onlookers.
A civil rights organization that tracks hate groups said it has long known about Cross, who is from Missouri.
The Southern Poverty Law Center says Cross is known to them using aliases — Glenn Miller or Frazier Glenn Miller — and is the former Grand Dragon of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
The center sued Cross in the 1980s for intimidating African Americans, and he has had several run-ins with the law since then, including being accused of violating the terms of a court order that settled the lawsuit.
A profile assembled by the Southern Poverty Law Center includes several anti-semitic statements attributed to Cross.
Police only described the suspect as an elderly man with a beard in a Sunday afternoon news conference.
According to the SPLC, Cross quit high school as a senior to join the Army. In a 20-year Army career he had two tours in Vietnam and 13 years as a member of the elite Green Berets before he was forced to retire because of his Klan affiliation in 1979.
Later he went on to be active in a neo-Nazi group called “The Order” that advocated violence against Blacks and Jews among others, the SPLC said.
He even unsuccessfully ran in the Democratic primary for North Carolina governor in 1984 and as a Republican for a state Senate seat in 1987, the SPLC said.
According to The Associated Press, Miller was the subject of a nationwide manhunt in 1987 for violating the terms of his bond while appealing a North Carolina conviction for operating a paramilitary camp.
The search ended after federal agents found Miller and three other men in an Ozark mobile home, which was filled with hand grenades, automatic weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
First published April 13 2014, 6:42 PM
Emmy Award-winning reporter Jonathan Dienst helps lead WNBC's investigative reporting team, largely covering justice and law enforcement issues on subjects ranging from terrorism to white-collar cases, political corruption and local crime. With WNBC since 2001, Dienst also reports for "NBC Nightly News," MSNBC, CNBC and "The Today Show," and has appeared on "Dateline."
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Dienst's coverage of terrorism, security and crime in the New York area includes many scoops, including the Fort Dix, N.J., terror plot; the existence of a â€œmanifestoâ€ sent by the Virginia Tech gunman to NBC News headquarters in New York; a videotape of 9/11 terror suspect Zacarious Moussaoui; U.S. terror charges being filed against radical British cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri; and many others.
He also has reported extensively on the aftermath and investigation into the 9/11 terror attacks, public corruption cases in New York and New Jersey, including allegations of Wall Street corruption, and white-collar crime.
Prior to joining WNBC, Dienst worked at WPIX/Channel 11 News from 1996-2001, covering police and the courts, politics and national and international news. While there he helped spearhead coverage of the crash of TWA Flight 800 and also covered the police brutality case involving Abner Louima.
Before WPIX, Dienst was a member of the staff that helped launch New York 1 News in 1992. Dienst also worked as a reporter for NBC affiliate WSAV-TV in Savannah, Ga., and has written articles for Newsday and the New York Post.
Dienst is the recipient of numerous awards including: Deadline, Emmys, the New York Press Club Gold Typewriter, Associated Press/NY State Broadcasters, Edward R. Murrow, Investigative Reporters and Editors, the Long Island Press Club, among others. Dienst has served on the Board of the New York Press Club and the local of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.
Dienst is a graduate of Colgate University and received a Master's Degree in journalism from Columbia University. He lives in New York with his wife and their three children.