NEW YORK (CNN/PIX11) – In the wake of a deadly shooting at a Kansas City Jewish community center on the eve of Passover, law enforcement in New York is beefing up patrols as the holiday gets underway.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said there will be heightened vigilance in temples and Jewish neighborhoods and police in Nassau County said they’ll be stepping up patrols.
Nearly 1.54 million Jews live in Westchester, the Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, Nassau and Suffolk counties, according to 2011 figures from the UJA-Federation of New York.
The elevated sense of alert comes one day after a Missouri man with a long virulent history of anti-Semitism is suspected of opening fire just after 1 p.m. in a Jewish community center’s parking lot.
The suspect — Frazier Glenn Miller — is the founder and former leader of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and the White Patriot Party.
Both operated as paramilitary organizations in the 1980s, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups.
The 73-year-old Miller, who also goes by Frazier Glenn Cross, faces charges of premeditated first-degree murder. He is expected to appear in court Monday.
The shootings took place at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City in Overland Park and at the Village Shalom Retirement Community in Leawood — a day before the start of Passover, the major Jewish spring festival.
“The timing is terrible. The timing is awful,” said Rabbi Herbert Mandl, a chaplain for the Overland Park police.
In all, the gunman shot at five people, none of whom he’s believed to have known, said Overland Park Police Chief John Douglass.
Three people died, including a 14-year-old who was auditioning for a singing competition and his grandfather. The other two were not injured.
Investigators have stopped short of calling the rampage a hate crime until they are further along into their investigation. Video from CNN affiliate KMBC showed the suspect sitting in the back of a patrol car and shouting, “Heil Hitler.”
The Anti-Defamation League said it warned last week of the increased possibility of violent attacks against community centers during the coming weeks, “which coincide both with the Passover holiday and Hitler’s birthday on April 20, a day around which in the United States has historically been marked by extremist acts of violence and terrorism.”