President Barack Obama says religious violence has no place in U.S. society, after a gunman with alleged anti-Semitic ties killed three people Sunday at a Jewish center and retirement home in the central U.S. state of Kansas.
Speaking at a White House prayer breakfast, Obama said, "Nobody should have to worry about their security when gathering with their fellow believers. No one should have to fear for their safety when they go to prayer."
He said the fact the attack came as Jews prepare to celebrate Passover and Christians prepare for Easter makes the tragedy "all the more painful.''
Police arrested a longtime white supremacist in connection with the shootings. Frazier Glenn Cross is due to appear in court Monday on charges of premeditated murder.
Police Chief John Douglass said Sunday authorities are not ready to call the shooting a hate crime.
"It is too early in an investigation to try to label it," he said, "we know it's a vicious act of violence and, you know, obviously two Jewish facilities, one might make that assumption but we're going to have to know more about it before we label it."
In the 1980s, Cross led a chapter of the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan and another group called the White Patriot Party. He was sentenced to five years in prison for threatening war against Jews, blacks, homosexuals and government officials.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, a prominent U.S. civil rights organization, said it earlier sued Cross for "using intimidation tactics against African Americans." The group said the two parties reached an agreement for his group to stop operating as a paramilitary organization, but that he violated the order and was sentenced to six months in prison for contempt.