Police say Frazier Glenn Cross is the suspect in Sunday's shooting death of a boy and his grandfather outside a Jewish community center near Kansas City, Kan., and then a woman at a nearby Jewish assisted living facility.
The hate crime charges are expected even though the victims were Christian, legal experts say.
For now, Cross faces charges of premeditated first-degree murder, officials said.
Investigators have "unquestionably determined" that his actions were a hate crime, Overland Park Police Chief John Douglass said.
If the suspected shooter is charged and convicted of a hate crime, under federal law, the death penalty could be on the table. That would apply if the charge is that the defendant was motivated by the victims' "race, color, religion or national origin."
Cross is the founder and former leader of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and the White Patriot Party, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups. Both organizations operated as paramilitary groups in the 1980s, according to the SPLC.
In the 73-year-old's anti-Semitic and white-supremacist activities, he has also used the name Frazier Glenn Miller, the SPLC said.
After he was apprehended at a nearby elementary school, Cross sat in the back of a patrol car and shouted "Heil Hitler!" video from CNN affiliate KMBC shows.
Source: Click2Houston, CNN, April 15, 2014