White supremacist faces hate crimes charges linked to Kansas Passover eve killings

(Photo: REUTERS / Dave Kaup)A police car blocks the scene of a shooting at Village Shalom, an assisted living center, as rain falls in Overland Park, Kansas April 13, 2014. Three people were killed in shootings at Jewish centers in Kansas on Sunday and a suspect was in custody, according to police and local media. The shootings occurred at the Jewish Community Center and at Village Shalom, an assisted living center about a mile away, according to local media.

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (Reuters) - The suspect in the killings of three people at two Jewish facilities near Kansas City was facing charges under hate crime laws on Tuesday as information about his ties to white supremacy groups emerged, law enforcement officials said.

Frazier Glenn Cross, 73, faces state and federal prosecution on hate crime charges after his arrest on Sunday for a shooting spree on Passover eve that killed a teenager and his grandfather outside a Jewish community center and a woman visiting her mother at a nearby Jewish retirement home.

Both facilities are in Overland Park, Kansas, an upscale suburb outside Kansas City, Missouri.

"My expectation is that there will be some sort of first appearance and charges filed today," said Overland Park Police spokesman Sean Reilly. Cross is being assigned a public defender, Reilly said.

Cross, who most recently was living in Aurora, Missouri, and also goes by the name Frazier Glenn Miller, has a history of hatred of Jewish people and has made comments online about a desire for them to be exterminated, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center and other groups which have tracked his activities over the last several decades.

None of the victims killed Sunday was Jewish. The boy and his grandfather were members of an area Methodist church and the woman attended a Catholic church. But authorities said that does not matter in the filing of hate crime charges. The intent and beliefs of the suspect who committed the acts based upon his beliefs and biases is the key factor, according to law enforcement officials.

The Anti-Defamation League said Cross was one of the "more notorious white supremacists" in the United States in the early 1980s, though his involvement over the last decade has been on the periphery of the white supremacist movement.

The league issued a security bulletin to U.S. synagogues and Jewish communal institutions urging them to review security plans for the Passover holiday that started at sundown Monday.

(Reporting by Kevin Murphy in Kansas City and Carey Gillam in Overland Park; Editing by James Dalgleish)