Gun­man tar­get­ing Jews kills 11 in Pitts­burgh syn­a­gogue

Stabroek News Sunday - - WORLD NEWS -

PITTS­BURGH, (Reuters) - A gun­man yelling, “All Jews must die,” stormed a Pitts­burgh syn­a­gogue dur­ing Satur­day ser­vices, killing 11 wor­ship­pers and wound­ing six other peo­ple in­clud­ing four po­lice of­fi­cers, be­fore he was ar­rested.

U.S. at­tor­ney for western Penn­syl­va­nia Scott Brady told a news con­fer­ence that charges could be filed later yes­ter­day against the sus­pected shooter, 46year-old Robert Bow­ers from Pitts­burgh.

“The ac­tions of Robert Bow­ers rep­re­sent the worst of hu­man­ity. We are ded­i­cat­ing the en­tire re­sources of my of­fice to this fed­eral hate crime in­ves­ti­ga­tion and pros­e­cu­tion,” Brady said.

The U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice will file hate crime and other crim­i­nal charges against Bow­ers that could lead to the death penalty, At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions said.

FBI spe­cial agent Bob Jones said the Fed­eral Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion, which is lead­ing the probe into the at­tack, be­lieved Bow­ers was act­ing alone, adding: “We have no knowl­edge that he was known to law en­force­ment be­fore to­day.”

KDKA tele­vi­sion cited po­lice sources as say­ing Bow­ers walked into the build­ing and yelled “All Jews must die.”

Bow­ers was in a hospi­tal in fair con­di­tion with mul­ti­ple gun­shot wounds. Pa­tients at area hos­pi­tals in­cluded a 61-year-old woman, a 70-year-old man, and a 55-yearold of­fi­cer. No chil­dren were killed, au­thor­i­ties said.

Three po­lice of­fi­cers were shot and one was in­jured by shrap­nel, au­thor­i­ties said. Two of the six peo­ple in­jured were in crit­i­cal con­di­tion.

A so­cial me­dia post by Bow­ers on Satur­day morn­ing said a Jewish refugee or­ga­ni­za­tion, the He­brew Im­mi­grant Aid So­ci­ety, “likes to bring in­vaders in that kill our peo­ple. I can’t sit by and watch my peo­ple get slaugh­tered. Screw your op­tics, I’m go­ing in.”

The com­ment was posted on Gab, a Philadel­phia, Penn­syl­va­nia-based so­cial net­work­ing ser­vice cre­ated as an al­ter­na­tive to Twit­ter. In a state­ment, Gab.com con­firmed the pro­file be­longed to Bow­ers and also said it had sus­pended the ac­count and con­tacted the FBI about it.

The shoot­ing, for which Bow­ers had an as­sault ri­fle and three hand­guns ac­cord­ing to the FBI’s Jones, prompted se­cu­rity alerts at houses of wor­ship around the coun­try. It fol­lows a spate of pipe bombs found mailed in re­cent days to prom­i­nent po­lit­i­cal fig­ures, mostly Democrats in­clud­ing for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama.

The Tree of Life syn­a­gogue in the city’s Squir­rel Hill neigh­bor­hood, a heav­ily Jewish area, was hold­ing a Shab­bat re­li­gious ser­vice at the time of the shoot­ing.

Po­lice are nor­mally only present at the syn­a­gogue for se­cu­rity on high hol­i­days, Michael Eisen­berg, for­mer pres­i­dent of the syn­a­gogue, told KDKA.

“On a day like to­day, the door is open, it’s a re­li­gious ser­vice, you can walk in and out,” he said.

Around the time, three con­gre­ga­tions amount­ing to about 100 peo­ple would have been us­ing the build­ing, Eisen­berg said.

Shortly af­ter re­ports of the shoot­ing emerged, U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said in a tweet he was watch­ing what he de­scribed as a “dev­as­tat­ing” sit­u­a­tion.

Trump told re­porters later that the killings might have been pre­vented if there had been an armed guard in the build­ing.

“If they had some kind of a pro­tec­tion in­side the tem­ple maybe it could have been a much more dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tion, they didn’t,” he said when asked about a pos­si­ble link to U.S. gun laws.

Jonathan Green­blatt, CEO of the Anti-Defama­tion League, said, “This is likely the dead­li­est at­tack on the Jewish com­mu­nity in the his­tory of the United States.”

On April 13, 2014, a pair of shoot­ings oc­curred at a Jewish Com­mu­nity Cen­ter and a Jewish re­tire­ment com­mu­nity, both lo­cated in Over­land Park, Kansas. A to­tal of three peo­ple were killed in the shoot­ings.

In 2015, a white su­prem­a­cist mur­dered nine African Amer­i­cans dur­ing a prayer ser­vice in Charleston, South Carolina.

In 2012, a neo-Nazi gun­man with white su­prem­a­cist ties walked into a Sikh gur­d­wara - or house of wor­ship - in Oak Creek, Wis­con­sin, and mur­dered six Sikh Amer­i­cans.

Robert Bow­ers

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