HBHA Spring Formal Cancelled Due to Violence at the Jewish Community Center

Bini Allen

Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy had their Spring Formal scheduled for Sunday, Apr. 13, but the dance had to be postponed to an undetermined date due to the tragic events that befell the Jewish Community Center of Overland Park the afternoon of the dance. While some HBHA high school students were getting back from a United Synagogue Youth convention, others were preparing themselves for the dance that night. The plans of the HBHA students and members of the community were devastatingly brought to a standstill when a man later identified as Frazier Glenn Cross interrupted the “KC SuperStar” auditions by slaughtering two innocent bystanders at the JCC and then fled to the Assisted Living Center, Village Shalom, where he then shot and killed a third member of the community.

At approximately 1 p.m. on Sunday the shots reportedly started. Cross shot and killed Dr. William Lewis Corporon outside his car, then moved to the other side and shot his grandson Reat Underwood, who was still sitting in his seat. After firing off a couple more shots, Cross drove away towards Village Shalom where he fired more shots, killing Terri LaManno who was at the Assisted Living Center to see her mother who lives at the facility.

After the tragic death of these three people, the community and the world found out who the shooter was and his intentions. On the day of the shooting, rumors flew around social media as to who the shooter was, and who the victims were, but by the next day the news came out that the shooter was a white supremacist, a former Ku Klux Klan leader in Carolina, and that he had yelled “Heil Hitler” when he was being arrested, suggesting that this act of violence was actually a hate crime.

The night of the shooting, HBHA high school students decided that even though the dance was canceled due to the horrific event, they wanted to be together and keep each other company in light of that days events. Senior Kara Kahn and STUCO president thought it was a good idea for the school to come together right after the tragedy and mourn as a group. “After the shooting, we let things cool down and then we all decided to meet up because we did not want to be alone that night. I felt like our school should come together as one and keep each other company in such a hard time. Everyone was supposed to be together that night anyway, but with the dance cancelled no one wanted to be alone, we all went to the Paul’s house stayed strong together.”

In response to the shooting at the JCC, Jewish teens from B’nai B’rith Youth (BBYO) Organization, United Synagogue Youth, and North American Federation of Temple Youth came together as a community to have a service in memory of the three lives lost. Led by BBYO and with the help of other youth groups, Jewish teens, and other people in the community on Friday, Apr. 18, the community came together to have a memorial service held at the Jewish Community Center and then a candle lit walk, commemorating the tragedy.