President Obama said violence against religious groups has "no place in our society" after an elderly man tied to hate groups allegedly opened fire Sunday and killed three people outside a Kansas City Jewish community center and retirement community.


"Nobody should have to worry about their security when gathering with their fellow believers," Obama said at the opening of his remarks at the White House Easter Prayer Breakfast. "Nobody should have to fear for their safety when they go to pray."

Obama said the tragedy was "all the more painful" because it came as Jews were preparing to celebrate Passover and Christians were marking Palm Sunday.

"We've got to stand united against this kind of terrible violence that has no place in our society," Obama said.

He vowed full federal support of the investigation into the shooting.

"We see what happens around the world when this kind of religious-based or tinged violence can rear its ugly head," Obama said. "It's got no place in our society."

The suspect in the shooting is Frazier Glenn Cross, a former leader of a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. He served a three-year prison sentence in the late 1980s after being convicted of sending threats through the mail and weapons charges.

In addition to touching on the tragedy in Overland Park, Kan., Obama spoke briefly about his meeting last month with Pope Francis.

"I had a wonderful conversation with Pope Francis — mainly about the imperative of addressing poverty and inequality," Obama said.

He said the religious and political leaders in attendance could take a lesson from Francis's willingness to embrace the poor and powerless who might otherwise be overlooked.