A gunman opened fire in a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday morning, killing 11 people and injuring six others, including four police officers, before being taken into custody, authorities said.
Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said police were dispatched to Tree of Life Synagogue at 9:55 a.m. after receiving calls that there was an active-shooter situation at the scene, in the city’s predominantly Jewish Squirrel Hill neighborhood.
In all, he confirmed, 11 people died — none of them children. As for the injury tally, he said it did not include the shooter, who was taken to the hospital after being taken into custody.
President Trump Speech tonight:
Law enforcement officials identified the suspect in the shooting as Robert Bowers, 48.
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center officials said a 61-year-old woman was among the injured. Her injuries were described as “extremity soft tissue injuries that required cleaning in the operating room.” She is said to be in good condition and recovering.
Another victim was ID’d as a 70-year-old male with gunshot wounds to his torso “involving major organs in his abdomen.” He was undergoing his second operation and in critical condition, hospital officials said.
Police Chief Scott Schubert said that two police officers were hit during initial contact with the shooter and that two SWAT team members were also struck “during an engagement inside the building.” He confirmed that all four law enforcement officials are in stable condition.
The FBI special agent in charge of the Pittsburgh office, Bob Jones, said that it was the most “horrific crime scene” he’s witnessed in his 22 year-career with the bureau. Jones said that the victims were targeted “simply because of their faith” but that Bowers’ full motive was unknown.
Bowers is said to have shouted that “all Jews must die” as he sprayed bullets, according to KDKA-TV. The attack took place during a baby naming ceremony on Shabbat, what is traditionally the busiest of days for synagogues.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said that the FBI is investigating the shooting as “a hate crime.” That was reinforced on Saturday evening by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who said the Justice Department intends to file hate-crime and other charges over an act he deemed “reprehensible and repugnant to the values of this nation.”
The U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania Scott Brady that authorities “expect to file criminal charges shortly, perhaps as early as today.”
They believe the suspect acted alone.
“At this point we have no knowledge that Bowers was known to law enforcement before today,” Jones added.
In the afternoon appearance in Indianapolis, President Trump, who said he’d been in contact with the mayor and governor over the tragedy, called the shooting a wicked, anti-Semitic act of “pure evil.”
First lady Melania Trump, like her husband, tweeted about the incident Saturday.
“My heart breaks over the news out of Pittsburgh. The violence needs to stop. May God bless, guide & unite the United States of America,” she wrote.
Meanwhile, police in New York and Los Angeles said they would be deploying extra teams to synagogues and Jewish locations throughout those cities.
Igud Harabanim which consists of 950 observant Jewish Rabbis immediately sent out a press release condemning the antisemitic attack on American Jews:
THE RABBINICAL ALLIANCE OF AMERICA MOURNS THE TRAGIC SYNAGOGUE SHOOTING ON SHABBAT MORNING PARSHAT VAYERAH
With profound sorrow and grief, we extend our boundless expressions of support and solidarity to the victims, their families, and the survivors of the brutal, horrendous attack that took place this Sabbath morning at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. We commend the brave members of the Pittsburgh Police Department and first–responders who rushed to aid the injured and to courageously contain the appalling and evil carnage perpetrated by a malevolent and hateful individual seeking to murder innocent people gathered in celebration of faith, life, and community.
The Rabbinical Alliance of America (RAA) — Igud HaRabbonim, with a membership of over 950 Orthodox Rabbis across the United States and Canada — calls upon all people of goodwill to unite in prayer to our Creator beseeching His protection and to increase in acts of charity and loving-kindness to help heal our fractured society.Rabbi Yehoshua S. Hecht, Chairman of the RAA presidium, asks all member rabbis to call for additional prayers to be recited immediately at all prayer services for the healing of the injured amongst the civilian and police.
Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, Executive Vice President of the RAA, stated that, “A hate attack on anyone is an attack on all of society. All decent people must come together to condemn such evil.”
May the One who makes peace in the Heavenly heights make peace upon us and upon all Israel, Amen.
Rabbi Hanania Elbaz, Brooklyn NY
Rabbi Yehoshua S. Hecht, Norwalk, CT
Rabbi Yaakov Klass, Brooklyn, NY
Rabbi Yaakov Spivak, Monsey, NY
Rabbi Herschel Kurzrock, Brooklyn, NY
Chief Judge Rabbinical Court
Rabbi Dov Aaron Brisman, Philadelphia, PA
Assistant Chief Judge Rabbinical Court
Rabbi Chaim Komendant; Passaic, NJ
Administrative Judge Rabbinical Court
Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, Staten Island, NY
Executive Vice President
Rabbi Moish Schmerler, Woodmere, NY
Rabbi Shamaryahu Shulman, Lakewood, NJ
Honorary President & Sr. Judge Rabbinical Court