A shooting took place Saturday morning outside a Pittsburgh synagogue causing multiple fatalities and injuries.
UPDATE, 6:30 p.m. EST –The death toll has officially risen to 11, with six injuries, in the deadliest synagogue shooting in U.S. history, CNN reported.
The shooter, Robert Bowers, posted on his social media profile minutes before the shooting, “I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered,” he wrote. “Screw your optics, I’m going in.”
His social media profile was filled with anti-Semitic rhetoric and criticisms of President Trump for supporting Israel and the Jewish community.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, “These alleged crimes are reprehensible and utterly repugnant to the values of this nation. Accordingly, the Department of Justice will file hate crimes and other criminal charges against the defendant, including charges that could lead to the death penalty.”
UPDATE, 1:30 p.m. EST – Sources told CBS Pittsburgh/KDKA that the shooter has been identified as Robert Bowers, a 46-year-old Pittsburgh resident. An official confirmation of his identity has not been released, however.
— KDKA (@KDKA) October 27, 2018
Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Josh Shapiro said the “shooter claimed innocent lives — and injured first responders — at a baby naming,” the Associated Press reported.
UPDATE, 1:25 p.m. EST – Wendell Hissrich, Pittsburgh Public Safety Director, confirmed an “active investigation going on” but said that the scene was cleared and secured.
A total of six injuries have been confirmed, four of which are said to be police officers. The official would not confirm the number of fatalities.
“It’s a very horrific crime scene. It’s one of the worse that I’ve seen, and I’ve been on some plane crashes,” he said.
The suspect has been identified, but his name was not yet released. He was injured and taken to the hospital.
The incident has been classified as a hate crime, and the FBI has taken over the investigation.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) October 27, 2018
Authorities report the shooter is now in custody after opening fire at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood, killing at least eight people and injuring others, including police, The Associated Press reported.
BREAKING: The gunman in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, who has been described only as a white male with a beard, surrendered after an exchange of gunfire with police. At least 8 people have been confirmed dead https://t.co/rldHevHSsX pic.twitter.com/zJ9667hhtR
— CBS News (@CBSNews) October 27, 2018
The shooter, described as a white male with a beard, reportedly stormed the synagogue while yelling, “All Jews must die,” CBS Pittsburgh reported.
When police responded to the scene, the shooter began firing at them, injuring three officers.
After some negotiation, the shooter eventually surrendered, and is reportedly injured.
Pittsburgh synagogue shooting latest:
-At least 8-10 people are dead
-12 people shot, including 3 police officers
-Suspect believed to be 46-year-old man
-Attack believed to be a hate crime pic.twitter.com/N9lfqSSFhS
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) October 27, 2018
Michael Eisenberg, former president of the Tree of Life Synagogue, said services were held on Saturday morning and the doors were open.
“At 9:45 there were three simultaneous congregations’ services that were being held,” he said. “In the main part of the building, The Tree of Life has a service that has about 40 people in it. Just below that there is a basement area where New Life congregation would have been having their Shabbat service. There would have been 30-40 people. Just adjacent to Tree of Light’s service area, a congregation was in the rabbi study room and they would have had approximately 15 people in there,” Eisenberg said, according to Fox News.
Eisenberg said that working with the Department of Homeland Security on an emergency exit strategy likely saved lives in the incident, citing a maintenance worker he spoke with who escaped through an emergency exit door.
Residents in the area were told to shelter in place while authorities secured the scene.
“Do not come out of your home right now, it is not safe,” said Jason Lando, Pittsburgh police commander.
“This should not be happening, period. It should not be happening in a synagogue. It should not be happening in our neighborhood.” Jeff Finkelstein, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, reacts to the deadly shooting at a local synagogue. https://t.co/AX4pnFjBr5 pic.twitter.com/J3HAbnOLWj
— CNN (@CNN) October 27, 2018
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said the shooting is an “absolute tragedy.”
“We must all pray and hope for no more loss of life,” Wolf 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,” Wolf said.
President Trump tweeted, “Watching the events unfolding in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Law enforcement on the scene. People in Squirrel Hill area should remain sheltered. Looks like multiple fatalities. Beware of active shooter. God Bless All!”
Watching the events unfolding in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Law enforcement on the scene. People in Squirrel Hill area should remain sheltered. Looks like multiple fatalities. Beware of active shooter. God Bless All!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 27, 2018
President Trump spoke briefly to the media at Andrews Air Force Base before traveling to a Future Farmers of America event.
He mentioned the lag in the death penalty process, lamenting over the “years” it will take for the shooter to face justice. “When people do this, they should get the death penalty,” he said. “They should pay the ultimate price.”
The President also discussed the vulnerabilities of religious institutions, which have been targeted in several shootings, and called on them to increase their security in light of the dangers.
“This has to stop,” he added.