(Photo: REUTERS/Orlin Wagner)
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Kansas Governor Sam Brownback joined religious leaders at the Jewish Community Center near Kansas City on Thursday for an interfaith prayer service to honor the three victims killed in Sunday's tragic shooting, allegedly carried out by suspect Frazier Glenn Cross, a white supremacist.
Holder said at the interfaith prayer service that Sunday's shooting was an "affront" to America's diverse identity. "Every alleged hate crime, no matter who the intended target, is an affront to who we are … as both a country and as a people. These acts cannot be ignored."
"Although our hearts are truly broken, all Americans stand with the people of Overland Park, of Leawood, and of Kansas City. We are united in our condemnation of this heinous attack and our commitment to see that justice is served," he added.
The attorney general went on to say that although this is a time of tragedy for the people of Kansas City, the outpouring of love and unity from the local community serves as a symbol of "light emerging from terrible darkness."
"I know it can seem at times that the world is irreparably broken, that it is fractured beyond repair," Holder said. "But all of us, here in this moment, surrounded by the people we love ... we are a testament to the limitless desire in this country for healing, for compassion and, ultimately, for peace."
Religious leaders from the Jewish, Methodist, Disciples of Christ, and Catholic faiths also spoke at Thursday's solemn event. The Rev. Adam Hamilton, pastor to two of the victims killed Sunday, reflected on the words of Mindy Corporon, mother to one of the victims, 14-year-old Reat Underwood, and daughter to another victim, 69-year-old William Corporon. Mindy has said that although she is suffering, she hopes that ultimately something good can come out of her tragic loss.
Hamilton said already some good can be seen because Underwood's tissues and organs were donated to those in need. The pastor added that when he looks at Mindy and her family, he sees their goodness, their strength, and their hope.
"When I look at Mindy and her family, that' s what I see. People are prisoners of hope and it's in that posture as human beings that we overcome evil with good, with hope and with determination that evil and that those who spread hatred will not have the final word."
Mindy Corporon reportedly did not attend Thursday's event, as her pastor said it was too soon for her to visit the place where her son and father were callously murdered, allegedly by 73-year-old Cross, a former Ku Klux Klan leader.
Cross allegedly shot William Corporon and Underwood in front of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City as the two prepared to attend an audition for a singing competition being held inside the center. The suspect then allegedly drove to a nearby Jewish retirement home, where he gunned down 53-year-old Terry LaManno, who was visiting her mother.
Thursday's interfaith event ended with a heartfelt tribute to the three victims, with political and religious leaders gathering on stage alongside law enforcement to light three candles in honor of Coporon, Underwood and LaManno. Those in attendance then sang in unison "Oseh Shalom," a Hebrew song meaning "he who makes peace."
Authorities have officially described Cross' alleged attack as a "hate crime," and the suspect is facing one count of capital murder and one count of first-degree, premeditated murder. He could be sentenced to the death penalty for his capital murder charge.