Crime

At preliminary hearing, witnesses to Jewish center shootings recall gunfire, aftermath

Sitting in a wheelchair, F. Glenn Miller Jr. listened to testimony in the first day of his preliminary hearing Monday in the Johnson County Courthouse in Olathe. Miller is charged with capital murder in the killings of William Corporon, Reat Underwood and Terri LaManno on April 13 at the Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom in Overland Park.
Sitting in a wheelchair, F. Glenn Miller Jr. listened to testimony in the first day of his preliminary hearing Monday in the Johnson County Courthouse in Olathe. Miller is charged with capital murder in the killings of William Corporon, Reat Underwood and Terri LaManno on April 13 at the Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom in Overland Park. The Kansas City Star

Maggie Hunker looked into the face of death last April outside the Village Shalom retirement community in Overland Park.

On Monday, Hunker looked across a Johnson County courtroom, and said that face belonged to F. Glenn Miller Jr.

Hunker testified that after witnessing Miller shoot one woman to death, he pointed a gun at her, only to lower the weapon without firing after he asked whether she was Jewish. She said she wasn’t.

Hunker was among witnesses who testified in the first day of a preliminary hearing for the 74-year-old Missouri man accused of killing three people outside Village Shalom and the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park.

Miller is charged with capital murder in the killings of William Corporon, Reat Underwood and Terri LaManno.

Corporon, 69, and Underwood, his 14-year-old grandson, were shot to death outside the community center, where the teen had auditioned for a singing competition. LaManno, 53, was shot dead a few minutes later outside Village Shalom, where she had gone to visit her mother.

Miller, also known as Frazier Glenn Cross Jr., faces three counts of attempted first-degree murder for allegedly firing at three people who were not struck. He also is charged with aggravated assault and discharging a firearm into an occupied building.

Sgt. Marty Ingram, a 37-year Overland Park police veteran who was working off-duty security at the community center, testified Monday of being just inside the theater lobby when he heard shots ring out and the center’s glass entrance doors “disintegrated.”

“The front of the theater was blown out,” Ingram said.

Ingram said that as he took cover behind a pillar, he heard more shooting. More shots struck the front of the theater.

“Dust, smoke was flying everywhere at that point,” he said.

Hearing that a shooter or shooters were going to enter the building, Ingram took up a defensive position and prepared to stop any assault.

“I decided that wasn’t going to happen,” he testified.

A witness looked outside and reported that the shooter had just driven away in a white car. Ingram headed outside and saw a pickup truck with its passenger door open and a man laying on the ground next to it. That man, later identified as Corporon, was dead from a head wound.

Ingram saw the wounded Reat sitting in the truck’s passenger seat. Ingram and another man got Reat out of the truck, put him on the pavement and began first aid.

As Ingram cradled the boy’s head, he heard a “horrendous” scream from a woman standing near the truck. He later learned she was Mindy Corporon, the daughter of the dead man and Reat’s mother .

A short time later, after hearing police had arrested a suspect, Ingram took several witnesses to the scene where Miller was arrested to see whether they could identify the suspect. Once there, Ingram went to the patrol car in which Miller was seated and had him get out.

Ingram said Miller shouted, “Heil Hitler. How many f------ Jews did I kill?”

All the shooting victims were Christians.

Thomas Bates, who goes by Tony, testified that he was working at the center when several people ran inside and said a shooter was outside. He began lockdown procedures and called the center’s security. Bates, a former Army combat medic, decided to go outside to see whether anyone needed help.

He ran to his truck to get first-aid gear then ran toward where the shots had been heard. He helped Ingram work on Reat.

Mark Brodkey, a retired physician, testified that he had just finished working out at the center’s fitness facility and was driving away when he saw a bearded man “shooting a long gun.” Thinking it was some sort of prank, Brodkey kept driving. When a shot blew out his car window, he sped away to a safe location.

Asked in court Monday whether he could identify the suspect, Brodkey said that he couldn’t positively identify Miller but it was “very likely” the same man.

Michael Metcalf, another witness, did identify Miller as the man whom he saw shooting that day.

Paul Temme testified that he was walking across the community center’s parking lot when he saw a gunman shooting into the passenger side of Corporon’s truck. Temme called 911. When the gunman drove away, he ran after the car to get a license number.

Temme said that as he neared the vehicle, the driver stopped, pointed a handgun at him and fired.

Temme dropped to the ground. He said he never got a good look at the man’s face and could not identify him.

James Coombes, who went to the community center to usher for a theater performance of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” testified that he had just stepped out of his vehicle when a white sedan pulled up.

“I saw the gun come up in the window and (the man) start firing shots,” he said.

Coombes said he “laid back” in his car and estimated hearing six shots before the gunman drove off. Though several bullets struck his car, Coombes was not struck.

Coombes then walked into the community center, where Ingram had his gun drawn and ordered him to drop the bag he was carrying.

“I kind of freaked out,” Coombes testified. “It was the second time I had a gun pointed at me that day.”

Coombes was one of the witnesses taken to the arrest scene.

“It was the same white sedan and the same person,” he testified.

Monday in court, he again identified Miller as the man who shot at him.

Prosecutors allege that after leaving the community center, Miller drove to Village Shalom. Hunker, who went there to visit a friend, said that she was walking to her car when she saw a man pointing a gun at a woman.

“I heard her screaming,” Hunker testified. “She was screaming ‘No, no, no.’”

The man pumped the shotgun, but it didn’t fire, so he got another long gun out of his car trunk.

“He aimed it at her and fired,” Hunker said. “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”

She later learned that the woman was LaManno.

The man then turned to Hunker and pointed the weapon at her.

“Are you a Jew?” she testified that he asked her.

When Hunker answered no, he put the gun back in the trunk and drove away.

“He looked very matter of fact,” she testified. “He was very calm.”

That day, she told police that she was not 100 percent sure when asked to identify him, but Monday in court she identified Miller as the shooter.

A few minutes after LaManno was killed, officers spotted Miller’s car parked in nearby school parking lot. As they approached with guns drawn, he stepped out, raised his hands and surrendered.

One officer testified that Miller described himself as an anti-Semite.

“He asked me if I was German and tried to recruit me,” Officer Charles Wimsatt said.

Monday’s final witness was Overland Park police Capt. Todd Chappell, who testified about traffic cameras that photographed Miller’s car as it drove in the area on the day of the shootings.

Chappell testified that the car was seen driving toward the community center a few minutes before the shooting there was reported. A few minutes later, it was seen driving in the opposite direction.

Two minutes after that, it was photographed driving toward Village Shalom, Chappell said.

Testimony is scheduled to continue Tuesday morning.

To reach Tony Rizzo, call 816-234-4435 or send email to trizzo@kcstar.com.

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