WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Eric Holder ordered a Justice Department investigation Monday into whether federal hate crimes were committed in shootings at two Jewish facilities in Kansas that killed three people.
In a statement, Holder said he has instructed the department to provide all available support to state and local authorities to determine whether the shootings outside Kansas City over the weekend broke federal hate crimes law.
The attorney general said the senseless acts of violence are all the more heartbreaking because they were carried out on the eve of Passover.
Holder said the Justice Department will do everything in its power to ensure justice is served in the case on behalf of the victims and their families.
Federal hate crimes are acts of violence committed on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual orientation or disability. U.S. law enforcement agencies reported 5,796 hate crime incidents in 2012, according to the latest figure available from the FBI.
A known white supremacist and former Ku Klux Klan leader was jailed in the shootings on a preliminary charge of first-degree murder.