Despite criminal background, vocal racist beliefs, FBI was not actively watching shooting suspect

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - The racist beliefs and criminal history of Frazier Glenn Cross, most widely known as Glenn Miller, were no secret to federal law enforcement agents.

But on Monday’s press briefing about the fatal shootings outside the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, FBI Special Agent Michael Kaste said the agency was not actively tracking Miller.

“We are aware that he was arrested. We are aware that he was affiliated with certain hate groups. Beyond that, I really can’t comment,” Kaste said when 41 Action News asked if Miller was “on the FBI’s radar.”

That revelation might surprise some people. However, former FBI agent Michael Tabman said there are a lot of people in the country who share Miller’s controversial beliefs.

“I know it’s frustrating and people will ask, ‘Hey, you guys know these guys exist. They spew all this hatred. We know they have this violent bend to them. Why can’t you stop them?’ It’s frustrating, but you can’t stop everyone,” Tabman told 41 Action News. “And you can’t arrest and detain people for things we think they may do.”

On Monday, law enforcement officials said all evidence gathered so far lead them to believe Miller acted alone. Tabman said that would have made it especially difficult to prevent the tragedy.

Moving forward, one of the biggest lingering questions is why Miller chose to come to Overland Park, Tabman said. Authorities say they have no reason to believe Miller had any connection to the Kansas City area.

Tabman said as a 73-year-old, Miller also doesn’t fit the typical profile of a white supremacist who could carry out a violent plot. Though he was armed, police arrested Miller in an elementary school parking lot without incident on Sunday.

“I think he wanted to be caught,” Tabman said. “I think he wanted to say his piece. Many times people do these shootings because they want to be heard. No one is listening. And does it work? It does because here we are talking about it.”

On Monday, law enforcement authorities and prosecutors said the shootings were “definitely a hate crime.”

Pursuing the hate crime would fall under federal jurisdiction. However, the local U.S. Attorney and Johnson County district attorney say they are both looking at filing charges.

“Either of us would be derelict in our duty if we did not look at every arrow in our quiver,” said Barry Grissom, the US Attorney for the District of Kansas.

Lisa Krigsten is a former federal prosecutor who spent several years in the US Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and handled hate crimes across the country.

Krigsten told 41 Action News state charges could be filed first to buy more time for federal investigators to build the hate crimes case. One thing that needs to be proved is the shootings occurred because of the victims’ perceived or actual religion.

Eventually, it is possible federal authorities could take over the case and the state charges will be dismissed, Krigsten said.

“There is a sense that people have that a murder is simply a murder. So why do we need this bias motivator or this hate crime?” Krigsten said. “One of the reasons is a crime like this can be perceived or can be committed to send a message to a larger community.”

Krigsten said the hope is a federal conviction and punishment can act as a deterrent for anyone else planning a similar attack.

“Often times there is no ability to prosecute a person until there is an attempted act of violence or an actual act of violence,” Krigsten said.

Grisson said he will be presenting a case to a grand jury in the “not-so-distant future.”

Ryan Kath can be reached at ryan.kath@kshb.com. You can also follow him on Twitter or connect on Facebook.

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