Kansas City shootings at least 4th time U.S. Jewish institutions targeted since 1999

Sunday's shooting attacks that left three dead at a Kansas City-area Jewish Community Center and a nearby assisted living facility weren't the first time American Jewish institutions have been the sites of violence.

Police said Sunday they're investigating the attacks as a hate crime, but noted it's far too early to discern the intentions of the suspected shooter, a man in his 70's who's been arrested.

A Kansas City affiliate, KSHB, reported that the suspected shooter yelled 'heil Hitler' after he was taken into custody, but Overland Park Police Chief John Douglass cautioned about jumping to conclusions. “While there is a lot of innuendo and a lot of assertions flying around, there's very little hardcore information,” Douglass said. 

Sunday's attacks came the day before Passover, a major Jewish holiday.

If local investigators — who are working with the FBI on the case — determine the crimes are motivated by hate, it would come as anti-Semitism in America is on the decline. The total number of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States declined 19 percent in 2013, the Anti-Defamation League reported earlier this month. The New York-based organization reported 751 acts of anti-Semitism in 2013 — "one of the lowest levels of incidents reported by the Anti-Defamation League since it started keeping records in 1979." 

ADL also found that Kansas has been extremely quiet: The state had no reported incidents of anti-semitism in 2012 or 2013, the ADL reported

Over the years, a handful of anti-Semitic attacks in the United States have been directed at Jewish institutions -- and the motives have varied:

-- In August 1999, a neo-Nazi opened fire at a Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles, injuring five. The victims, all of whom lived, included a 5 year old and two 6 year olds. A decade after the shooting, Buford O'Neal Furrow Jr. wrote in a letter from federal prison that he'd decided to attack the JCC as "a wakeup call to America to kill Jews." 

-- In July 2006, Naveed Afzal Haq opened fire at the Seattle Jewish Federation, killing one and injuring five others. Before surrendering, police reported Haq raised several issues with a 911 dispatcher. “He said he wanted the United States to leave Iraq, that his people were being mistreated and that the United States was harming his people,” then-police chief R. Gil Kerlikowske of the Seattle Police said at a news conference.  “And he pointedly blamed the Jewish people for all of these problems. He stated he didn’t care if he lived.” Haq was convicted in 2009.

-- In May 2009, four men were arrested after they tried to plant bombs in two synagogues in the Bronx and planned to strike military aircraft with Stinger missiles  Authorities said the suspects "wanted to engage in terrorist attacks", and the four were convicted in 2010.

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