TODAY   |  April 15, 2014

FBI on Kansas gunman: ‘This was a hate crime’

An alleged gunman who is accused of deadly shootings at Jewish facilities near Kansas City is expected to be formally charged today, as the families of the victims speak out for the first time. NBC’s Ron Allen reports.

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>>> meantime, we'll learn more today about the alleged gunman in kansas city . this as the families speak out for the first time. nbc's ron allen has the latest. good morning.

>> reporter: good morning, carson. prosecutors have been very carefully plotting their case against the suspect. he's expected to be charged with three counts of premeditated murder and also the very serious federal charge of committing a hate crime , all of which means that if convicted, ultimately he could face the death penalty. investigators now believe they can prove bias, hate drove frazier glenn cross to shoot and kill three people outside a jewish community center and retirement home .

>> we have now determined that the motivation behind this was a hate crime .

>> reporter: hate crimes is an idea the avowed white supremacists with a long history of run-ins with the law, including time in federal prison on federal weapons charges, has mocked in the past.

>> these hate crime laws, for example, that only apply to white racists.

>> reporter: the victims' families celebrate the lives of loved ones lost with remarkable strength and grace.

>> it didn't feel like a crime scene to me, it was my family.

>> mindy corporan reveals what she felt upon finding her father william sr. and her son reat shot and killed in a parking lot.

>> from what i heard, they didn't feel anything, they didn't know what was coming.

>> reporter: reat, a high school freshman and promising performer, seen here at a recent school event. o'er the land of the free

>> reporter: his grandfather, one of reat's biggest fans, had taken him to the audition. tom hastings lost his kid sister terri lomano, gunned down outside the retirement home , where she visited their ailing mother every sunday. a therapist for visually impaired children, planning to celebrate 25 years of marriage today. daughter alisa finds it ironic her mother was a victim of intolerance.

>> she loved with no boundaries. she loved everybody.

>> reporter: for now, they refuse to even discuss the alleged killer.

>> you know, it was a horrible act of violence . we want something good to come out of this.

>> reporter: both families are planning services this week, which will no doubt be very emotional gatherings. and this morning, some friends of reat at this high school are planning and holding a very private prayer service without the media or public present as they prepare to begin to go back to school. carson, savannah?

>> all right, ron allen , thank