ST. LOUIS COUNTY (KPLR) – St. Louis area Jewish leaders are shocked and saddened over a deadly shooting in a Kansas City suburb. Three victims were gunned down. Two were on the parking lot of the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, KS. The other victim was killed at a nearby Jewish assisted living facility.
“Our thoughts and our prayers go with the families that are affected by this really senseless act,” said Andrew Rehfeld, President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis.
“We are shocked and saddened and offer our support to the families affected,” said Lynn Wittels, President and CEO of the Jewish Community Center of St. Louis.
She did not expect the tragedy in Kansas to change security in St. Louis.
“We are always vigilant about security,” said Wittels. “This gives us the opportunity to just think about those plans one more time, but I don’t know that anything will change long term.”
Rehfeld also cautioned against any overreaction.
“We have to know that there is always hatred and extremism in the world,” said Rehfeld. “At the same time we have lives to lead.”
The shootings came as Jewish families around the world prepare for Passover. The Passion for Truth Ministries celebrated a Seder on Sunday. It’s a Christian church in St. Charles committed to understanding the roots of their faith. Senior Pastor Jim Staley grew up in Overland Park.
“With my grandparents and family living there it grieves my heart deeply,” said Staley.
“It’s amazing to me that the deeper people go into the roots of their faith, the more that they’re persecuted,” said Staley. “Certainly Jewish people are at the top of the list of those who have been persecuted for their faith.”
According to police, the suspect arrested is in his 70’s and has known ties to white supremacist groups.
Raw footage of Kansas City Press Conference