Four days after Frazier Glenn Miller shot and killed two people outside the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City and a third person outside Village Shalom, a nearby Jewish retirement home, the JCC reopened to host an interfaith memorial service for the three victims. Miller, 72, a well-known anti-Semite who yelled “Heil Hitler” from the back of a police car after his arrest, made no secret of his decades-long vitriolic hatred of Jews. In a dark and morbid twist to the tragic shootings, which took place the day before Passover, none of the victims were Jewish.
The first two victims, William Lewis Corporon and his 14-year-old grandson Reat Griffin Underwood, a high school freshman who was at the JCC to audition for a local singing competition, were members of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood. The third victim, Terri LaManno, who was visiting her mother at Village Shalom when the shooting occurred, was a longtime parishioner at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Kansas City along with her husband and children.
This morning’s memorial, which was attended by U.S. General Attorney Eric Holder, was billed as an interfaith service of hope and unity, incorporating Jewish and Christian traditions in a moving repudiation of the hate that fueled Sunday’s attack. There was music and speakers who spanned the religious spectrum, all emphasizing the message that acts like these should unite communities, not divide them.
Reat Griffin Underwood’s father spoke of the diversity of crowd at the day’s event, adding that it’s not an unusual sight at the community center. “This place always looks like this,” he said. He also emphasized the importance of understanding across different communities: “With our connections, we have the power to move past hatred to a life based on love.”