SHOOT­ING HOR­ROR AT U.S. SYN­A­GOGUE

Wales On Sunday - - NEWS - GENE PUSKAR As­so­ci­ated Press news­desk@waleson­line.co.uk

AGUN­MAN has killed at least 10 peo­ple and in­jured six oth­ers af­ter open­ing fire dur­ing a baby nam­ing cer­e­mony at a Pitts­burgh syn­a­gogue. Po­lice last night said a sus­pect was in cus­tody af­ter the at­tack at the Tree of Life Con­gre­ga­tion in the Squir­rel Hill neigh­bour­hood.

A law en­force­ment of­fi­cial iden­ti­fied the sus­pect as Robert Bow­ers and said he is in his 40s.

City of­fi­cials said the shoot­ing was be­ing in­ves­ti­gated as a fed­eral hate crime.

Wen­dell His­s­rich, Pitts­burgh pub­lic safety di­rec­tor, said among the six in­jured were four po­lice of­fi­cers who rushed to the scene.

“It is a very hor­rific crime scene. It was one of the worst that I’ve seen. It is very bad,” he said.

The at­tack took place dur­ing a baby nam­ing cer­e­mony, ac­cord­ing to Penn­syl­va­nia At­tor­ney Gen­eral Josh Shapiro.

It was un­known whether the baby was harmed in the at­tack.

The syn­a­gogue is lo­cated at the in­ter­sec­tion of Wilkins and Shady av­enues. The tree-lined res­i­den­tial area, about 10 min­utes from down- town Pitts­burgh, is the hub of Pitts­burgh’s Jewish com­mu­nity.

Be­fore the sus­pect was taken into cus­tody, the neigh­bour­hood and all syn­a­gogues in the city were in a lock­down with peo­ple or­dered to re­main in­doors.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump called the shoot­ing “far more dev­as­tat­ing than any­one thought,” say­ing: “It’s a ter­ri­ble thing what’s go­ing on with hate in our coun­try.”

But Mr Trump added the out­come would have been dif­fer­ent if the syn­a­gogue had an armed guard.

“They didn’t have any pro­tec­tion,” he told re­porters at Joint Base An­drews, Mary­land.

Of­fer­ing a dif­fer­ent take, Penn­syl­va­nia Demo­crat Gover­nor Tom Wolf, a Demo­crat, called the shoot­ing an “ab­so­lute tragedy” in a state­ment that made ref­er­ence to calls for tighter gun con­trol laws.

“We must all pray and hope for no more loss of life,” he said.

“But we have been say­ing ‘this one is too many’ for far too long. Dan­ger­ous weapons are put­ting our cit­i­zens in harm’s way.”

World Jewish Congress Pres­i­dent Ron­ald S Lauder called the shoot­ing “an at­tack not just on the Jewish com­mu­nity, but on Amer­ica as a whole”.

The syn­a­gogue is a fortress-like con­crete build­ing, its fa­cade punc­tu­ated by rows of swirling, mod­ernistic stained-glass win­dows il­lus­trat­ing the story of cre­ation, the ac­cep­tance of God’s law, the “life cy­cle” and “how hu­man-be­ings should care for the earth and one an­other”, ac­cord­ing to its web­site.

Among its trea­sures is a “Holo­caust To­rah” res­cued from Cze­choslo­vakia.

Its sanc­tu­ary can hold up to 1,250 guests.

Jeff Finkel­stein of the Jewish Fed­er­a­tion of Greater Pitts­burgh said lo­cal syn­a­gogues have done “lots of train­ing on things like ac­tive shoot­ers, and we’ve looked at hard­en­ing fa­cil­i­ties as much as pos­si­ble”.

“This should not be hap­pen­ing, pe­riod,” he told re­porters at the scene. “This should not be hap­pen­ing in a syn­a­gogue.”

Just three days be­fore the shoot­ing, Rabbi Jef­frey My­ers posted a col­umn on the con­gre­ga­tion’s web­site, not­ing peo­ple make time to at­tend funerals, but not for life’s happy oc­ca­sions.

“There is a story told in the Tal­mud of a wed­ding pro­ces­sion and a fu­neral pro­ces­sion head­ing along par­al­lel roads, with the roads in­ter­sect­ing,” Mr My­ers wrote on Wed­nes­day.

“The ques­tion asked is: when they meet at the fork, which pro­ces­sion goes first, fu­neral or wed­ding? The cor­rect an­swer is wed­ding, as the joy of the cou­ple takes prece­dence. In fact, the fu­neral pro­ces­sion is to move out of sight so that their joy is not less­ened.”

He ended the col­umn with words that now seem all too pre­scient.

“We value joy so much in Ju­daism that upon tak­ing our leave from a fu­neral or a shiva house, the cus­tom­ary state­ment one makes (in Yid­dish) is ‘nor oyf sim­ches’ – only for s’ma­chot,” he wrote.

“While death is in­evitable and a part of life, we still take our leave with the best pos­si­ble bless­ing, to meet at joy­ous events. And so I say to you: nor oyf sim­ches!”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.