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NYPD Steps Up Security at Jewish Facilities after Kansas Shootings

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The New York City Police Department is stepping up security at synagogues in the city after the fatal shootings of three people at Jewish-affiliated facilities near Kansas City over the weekend.

Passover begins at sundown and police are stepping up security at various institutions around the five boroughs, as they do every year.

This year's celebration comes just a day after three people were shot to death outside a Jewish Community Center and Jewish retirement home in Kansas City.

According to published reports, law enforcement officials have identified the shooter as Frazier Glenn Cross, 73.

Authorities say Cross -- who also goes by the last name Miller -- is a white supremacist and former Ku Klux Klan leader.

He is currently charged with first-degree murder, and police expect hate crime charges will follow.

The shootings happened Sunday in Overland Park, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City.

Police say the gunman first opened fire outside a Jewish community center, killing a man and his 14-year-old grandson.

Both victims were Christians.

Investigators say the shooter then drove to a Jewish retirement community and shot another person to death before he was taken into custody.

Members of Congregation Emanu-El on the Upper East Side who spoke with NY1 say news of the shootings has put them on edge.

"We have to be alert and very much aware with what's happening and hold it in our hearts," said Barbara Bracali, a worshiper.

"It is a little bit scary that people are so hateful based upon religion and race," said Emily Tisch Sussman, a worshiper.

Passover is one of the most widely-observed of all Jewish holidays, a celebration of the exodus from slavery in Egypt. But many who are celebrating say the shootings will cast a more somber mood over what is normally a joyous occasion.

"The atmosphere at the Kaballah Center will be much different than they planned before this thing," said Grasia Yalman, a worshiper.

Others say the shootings are an example of why the U.S. needs tougher gun laws.

"We need to look at more seriously at keeping guns out of dangerous people's hands particularly those who are anti-Semitic," Tisch Sussman said.

Other members of the faith say the violence will encourage them to commit themselves even more to the core Jewish values of helping others not as fortunate.

The NYPD says it is sending additional resources to synagogues and Jewish neighborhoods around the city throughout the Passover holiday.

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