An Overland Park Kansas police officer at the scene of a shooting at the JCC of Greater Kansas City in Overland Park, Kansas April 13, 2014. .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Three people were reported dead on Sunday in a possible anti-Semitic shooting attack at two buildings serving the Jewish community near Kansas City.
A gunman opened fired in the parking lot of the Overland Park Jewish Community Center and the nearby Village Shalom retirement home, both in the Kansas City suburb.
"At around 1 p.m. today, Overland Park police received multiple calls regarding a shooting on the campus of the Jewish Community Center, 5801 W. 115th Street. Additional calls were received by police of another shooting at the Village Shalom Retirement Community, 5500 W. 123rd," according to the Overland Park Police Department.
"Three victims are confirmed deceased. A person of interest has been taken into custody at this time," the police spokesman said.
CNN reported that the deceased included a teenager and an elderly woman.
During the initial developing story, a spokeswoman for Overland Park Regional Medical Center said the hospital was treating a 14-year-old male who suffered a gunshot wound and who was in critical condition.
The gunman fired toward a total of five people, three of whom were confirmed dead, authorities investigating the incident said at a press briefing.
Overland Park Police Chief John Douglass said it was too early to label the attacks as anything other than "vicious acts of violence."
He stated that two males were killed outside the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas and one female at the nearby Shalom Village retirement home.
He confirmed that police had a white male in his 70s in custody for questioning. He added that the man was unknown to police until today.KCTV5
The Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City said on Facebook that no shooting had occurred inside its campus, and it had released home all the participants of its programming.
Overland Park, the second biggest city in Kansas, is a short drive away from the state’s main Jewish concentration in Kansas City.
According to Kansas's KSHB 41 Action News, police were holding one suspect in custody, who was reported as yelling "heil Hitler" as he was being detained.
The entire JCC campus was locked down.
One witness was quoted by KSHB 41 Action News as saying that a man, presumably the shooter, had aimed a gun at him before shooting the windows of his vehicle.
US Federal Bureau of Investigation officials were helping local authorities investigate the two shootings, CNN cited FBI spokesman Joel Sealer as saying.
The JCC of Greater Kansas City announced that it would be closed on Monday.
"We will post more information following a debriefing at the Overland Park Police Command Center and a 5:00 pm press conference, which will be carried live," the JCC said on Facebook.The Jerusalem Post
was unable to reach the Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City for further comment.
The shooting comes only weeks after the Anti-Defamation League released a report describing an increase in physical assaults against Jews despite an overall 19 percent decrease of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States.
In its Annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, the ADL reported that there 751 incidents in 41 states and Washington, DC — among the lowest number since 1979, when the ADL began collecting data. The number of incidents has been steadily declining for the past decade.
Reuters, JTA and Jpost.com Staff contributed to this report