Gun­man at­tacks syn­a­gogue, killing 11

Stamford Advocate (Sunday) - - Obituaries / News -

PITTS­BURGH — A shooter opened fire dur­ing a baby-nam­ing cer­e­mony at a Pitts­burgh syn­a­gogue on Satur­day, killing 11 peo­ple.

At least six other peo­ple were wounded, in­clud­ing four po­lice of­fi­cers who dashed to the scene, author­i­ties said.

Po­lice said a sus­pect was in cus­tody af­ter the at­tack at the Tree of Life Con­gre­ga­tion in Pitts­burgh’s Squir­rel Hill neigh­bor­hood. A law en­force­ment of­fi­cial iden­ti­fied the sus­pect as Robert Bow­ers and said he is in his 40s. The of­fi­cial wasn’t au­tho­rized to dis­cuss an on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion and spoke to The As­so­ci­ated Press on con­di­tion of anonymity.

Bob Jones, the spe­cial agent in charge of the FBI’s of­fice in Pitts­burgh, said Bow­ers was not known to law en­force­ment and that they be­lieve he was act­ing alone. He said Bow­ers’ full motive still isn’t known.

The so­cial me­dia site said the al­leged shooter had a pro­file on its web­site, which is pop­u­lar with far-right ex­trem­ists. The com­pany said the ac­count was ver­i­fied af­ter the shoot­ing and matched the name of the gun­man.

A man with the same name posted on Gab be­fore the shoot­ing that “HIAS 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.”

HIAS is a non­profit group that helps refugees around the world find safety and free­dom. The or­ga­ni­za­tion says it is guided by Jewish val­ues and his­tory.

Bow­ers also re­cently posted a photo of a col­lec­tion of three semi-au­to­matic hand­guns he ti­tled “my glock fam­ily,” a ref­er­ence to the firearms man­u­fac­turer. He also posted pho­tos of bul­let holes in per­son-sized tar­gets at a fir­ing range, tout­ing the “amaz­ing trig­ger” on a hand­gun he was of­fer­ing for sale.

City of­fi­cials said the shoot­ing was be­ing in­ves­ti­gated as a fed­eral hate crime. It comes amid a rash of high-pro­file at­tacks in an in­creas­ingly di­vided coun­try, in­clud­ing the series of pipe bombs mailed over the past week to prom­i­nent Democrats and for­mer of­fi­cials.

The shoot­ing also im­me­di­ately reignited the long­stand­ing na­tional de­bate about guns: Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said the out­come might have been dif­fer­ent if the syn­a­gogue “had some kind of pro­tec­tion” from an armed guard, while Penn­syl­va­nia’s Demo­cratic Gov. Tom Wolf noted that once again “dan­ger­ous weapons are putting our cit­i­zens in harm’s way.”

The peo­ple who provided the death toll spoke to The As­so­ci­ated Press anony­mously be­cause they were not au­tho­rized to speak pub­licly about the shoot­ing.

The at­tack took place dur­ing a baby-nam­ing cer­e­mony, ac­cord­ing to Penn­syl­va­nia At­tor­ney Gen­eral Josh Shapiro. It was un­known whether the baby was harmed.

“It is a very hor­rific crime scene. It’s one of the worst that I’ve seen and I’ve been on some plane crashes,” said a vis­i­bly moved Wen­dell His­s­rich, the Pitts­burgh pub­lic safety direc­tor.

The syn­a­gogue is lo­cated in the tree-lined res­i­den­tial neigh­bor­hood of Squir­rel Hill, about 10 min­utes from down­town Pitts­burgh and the hub of Pitts­burgh’s Jewish com­mu­nity.

Jonathan Green­blatt, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of the Anti-Defama­tion League, said the group be­lieves it is the dead­li­est at­tack on the Jewish com­mu­nity in U.S. his­tory.

“Our hearts break for the fam­i­lies of those killed and in­jured at the Tree of Life Syn­a­gogue, and for the en­tire Jewish com­mu­nity of Pitts­burgh,” Green­blatt said.

Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu said he was “heart­bro­ken and ap­palled” by the at­tack.

“The en­tire peo­ple of Is­rael grieve with the fam­i­lies of the dead,” Ne­tanyahu said. “We stand to­gether with the Jewish com­mu­nity of Pitts­burgh. We stand to­gether with the Amer­i­can peo­ple in the face of this hor­ren­dous anti-Semitic bru­tal­ity. And we all pray for the speedy re­cov­ery of the wounded.”

Trump called the shoot­ing a “wicked act of mass mur­der” that “is pure evil, hard to be­lieve and frankly some­thing that is unimag­in­able.”


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