Despite memories of tragedy, KC Superstar auditions begin again

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Auditions for the next KC Superstar began today at the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, almost one year after a gunman opened fire at last year's auditions.

On Sunday, the teen competitors and judges said that they are happy that this year's event can move forward in a positive way.

"I sing at school, I sing at church and I also sing in plays and musicals and things like that," said Taylor Ramsey, who joined dozens of other metro-area high school students on the first day of tryouts. But for some, a sad memory still lingers.

"You can't go through the day without thinking about it," said judge Tammy Ruder.

On April 13, 2014, 73-year-old neo-Nazi Frazier Glenn Cross, Jr. opened fire in the parking lot of the Jewish Community Center, killing 14-year-old KC Superstar competitor Reat Underwood and his 69-year-old grandfather, William Corporon.

William Corporon and Reat Underwood

William Corporon and Reat Underwood

Cross then opened fire on the Village Shalom retirement center about a mile away, killing Terry LaManno in the parking lot. He was arrested a short time later near an Overland Park elementary school.

Cross is set to stand trial on three counts of capital murder and attempted murder this summer. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

Ruder says that she hopes teens trying out this year feel grateful for the opportunity, since Reat Underwood never had the chance.

"Every time we go forward its remembering that, and not letting hate stop us from what we're doing," said Ruder.

The auditions continue on Wednesday, April 1.