By Benjamin Goad - 04/14/14 11:19 AM EDT
The Justice Department is considering whether to bring federal hate crime charges against a man accused of killing three people outside a Jewish community center and retirement home in Kansas City, Attorney General Eric Holder said Monday.
“Justice Department prosecutors will work with their state and local counterparts to provide all available support and to determine whether the federal hate crimes statute is implicated in this case,” Holder said in a statement issued Monday morning.
Earlier Monday, Overland Park, Kan., Police Chief John Douglass stopped short of declaring the shooting a hate crime, a designation that would carry additional criminal penalties.
"It is too early in the investigation to try and label it,” he said. “It was a vicious act of violence and obviously [with] two Jewish facilities, one might make that assumption. But we are going to have to know more about it before we label it."
Cross reportedly served a three-year prison sentence in the late 1980s after being convicted of sending threats through the mail and weapons charges.
He has also previously run for seats in the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, according to The Associated Press.
Holder said he was “horrified” to learn of the violence, which erupted on the eve of Passover.
“No matter what, we will do everything in our power to ensure justice is served in this case on behalf of the victims and their families,” he said.
—Mario Trujillo contributed.