Pittsburgh synagogue shooting:11 killed in hate crime

Police officers guard the Tree of Life synagogue following shooting at the synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S., October 27, 2018. REUTERS/John Altdorfer

46-year-old Robert Bowers on Saturday opened fire at the Tree of Life synagogue in the US city of Pittsburgh, killing at least 11 people and injuring several others including four policemen, in the deadliest "anti-Semitic attack" in America in years.

Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich told reporters that there were 11 fatalities and six injuries including four policemen. "This does not include the shooter," he said, adding that there were no children among fatalities or injured.

The shooter surrendered after he was injured during an exchange of fire with the police, according to local media reports.

Who is Robert Bowers?

Robert Bowers described as a white, heavy set with a beard, was being questioned and treated at a hospital. The FBI is investigating this as a "hate crime". Before opening fire, he reportedly yelled, "All Jews must die!"

The suspect is in "fair condition" with multiple gunshot wounds and is being treated at Allegheny General Hospital, according to Pittsburgh's public safety director.

According to NBC news, shooter Bowers was armed with an AR-15 style rifle in addition to multiple handguns.


This image widely distributed by US media on October 27, 2018 shows a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) ID picture of Robert Bowers, the suspect of the attack at the Tree of Life synagogue during a baby naming ceremony in Pittsburgh, Pensylvania. AFP.

Bowers appears to have no past criminal record, and a Federal Bureau of Investigation official said he was not previously known to law enforcement.

Bob Jones, special agent in charge of the FBI's Pittsburgh office, said law enforcement authorities believe he was acting alone but had not identified his full motive.

Bowers has a license to carry a firearm and has made at least six firearm purchases since 1996, CNN reported, quoting a law enforcement official.

In his multiple social media accounts, Bowers showed his anti-Jew sentiment in particular vented his anger against Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society or HIAS.

"HIAS likes to bring invaders to kill our people. I can't sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I am going in," he said on the social media platform Gab, an alternative version of Twitter.

In another Gab message, Bowers said he did not vote for Trump, nor did he ever wore a cap of MAGA (make America great again).

A quote atop the Bowers page said "jews are the children of satan," according to screenshots of the now-suspended account released by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors extremist movements.

Bowers posted on Gab just hours before the shooting: "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."

Suspect shooter charged with Hate Crime and total of 29 federal charges: Justice Dept 

US prosecutors slapped the gunman who killed 11 people in a synagogue with 29 counts of federal crimes of violence and firearms offenses on Saturday, after he carried out the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in recent US history.

The charges against shooter Robert Bowers include 11 counts of obstruction of exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death; and 11 counts of use of a firearm to commit murder during a crime of violence, the US Attorney's Office of the Western District of Pennsylvania said in a statement.

"The crimes of violence are based upon the federal civil rights laws prohibiting hate crimes," the statement said.

Cops clueless on motive

FBI agents reached the 'Tree of Life' Congregation Synagogue at Squirrel Hill area in Pittsburgh, where a large number of people had gathered for a baby naming ceremony when the shooting took place. The motive was not immediately known.

FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Bob Jones said the investigation was in its early stages and there was no knowledge if the shooter was known to the law enforcement till this date.

"Gunman targeted (people) because of their faith. At this time, we believe that he was acting alone," he said.
 

Trump calls shooting evil, reccomends death penalty for the shooter

 

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about the shooting in Pittsburgh, under the wing of Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, U.S., before traveling to Indiana and Illinois, October 27, 2018. REUTERS/Al Drago
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about the shooting in Pittsburgh, under the wing of Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, U.S., before traveling to Indiana and Illinois, October 27, 2018. REUTERS/Al Drago

Describing the mass shooting as "pure evil", US President Donald Trump said the nation and the world are shocked by the unimaginable incident.

"This wicked act of mass murder is pure evil, hard to believe, and frankly something that is unimaginable. Our nation and the world are shocked and stunned by the grief. This was an anti-Semitic act," said Trump.

 

 

"We just don't seem to learn from the past," he said at a farmers' event in Indianapolis.

"Our minds cannot comprehend the cruel hate and the twisted malice that could cause a person to unleash such terrible violence during a baby naming ceremony. This was a baby naming ceremony at a sacred house of worship," the US President said.

"We must all rise above the hay, move past our divisions and embrace our common destiny as Americans. It doesn't mean that we can't fight hard and be strong and say what's on our mind, But we have to always remember those elements of love and dignity and respect," Trump said.

"This evil Anti-Semitic attack is an assault on all of us," Trump told supporters at an election rally in Illinois where he began by addressing the attack at length -- drawing loud cheers as he vowed to fully enforce the death penalty for such crimes, AFP reported. 

US flags to be flown at half-staff after synagogue shooting: Trump
All flags at the White House, public grounds, military posts, naval stations and ships will be flown at half-staff through October 31 as a mark of "solemn respect" for the victims, Trump ordered.

Benjamin Netanyahu in shock

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "I was heartbroken and appalled by the murderous attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue today".

 

 

The shooting came days after recovery of a series of package bombs sent to several current and former high-ranking officials.

Israel's Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said: "We all feel the pain of the murder of Jews at a Shabbat service. We will stand together like a rock against hatred and against those who try to harm Jews all over the world. I send condolences to the families of the murdered and a speedy recovery for the wounded. The entire Jewish people now stands alongside the Jewish community of Pittsburgh".
 

People walk by as the municipality building in Tel Aviv is lit in the colours of the American flag in solidarity with the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue attack, Israel October 27, 2018 REUTERS/Nir Elias
People walk by as the municipality building in Tel Aviv is lit in the colours of the American flag in solidarity with the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue attack, Israel October 27, 2018 REUTERS/Nir Elias 

Condemnation pours in

Former US President Barrack Obama

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf

Tom Wolf said: "The shooting in Pittsburgh this morning is an absolute tragedy...These senseless acts of violence are not who we are as Americans. My thoughts right now are focused on the victims, their families and making sure law enforcement has every resource they need. We cannot accept this violence as normal".

President  of Synagogue

According to Michael Eisenberg, past president of Tree of Life Synagogue, the shooting happened during weekly Shabbat services at the Jewish synagogue. At the time, three simultaneous congregation services were taking place.

 Angela Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel denounced the deadly shooting rampage at a synagogue in the US city of Pittsburgh on Saturday as "blind anti-Semitic hatred".

"We all have to stand up against anti-Semitism, everywhere," she said, in a brief statement posted on Twitter by a German government spokesman.

Ivanka Trump

Ivanka said: "America is stronger than the acts of a depraved bigot and anti-semite. All good Americans stand with the Jewish people to oppose acts of terror & share the horror, disgust & outrage over the massacre in Pittsburgh. We must unite against hatred & evil".

Mike Pence

"What happened in Pittsburgh today was not just criminal - it was evil - an attack on innocent Americans and an assault on our Freedom of Religion. There's no place in America for violence or anti-Semitism, and this evil must end," Vice President Mike Pence said.

Anti-Defamation League

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in a statement said that this violent attack is the "deadliest anti-Semitic attack in the United States since 2014".

"It is simply unconscionable for Jews to be targeted during worship on a Sabbath morning, and unthinkable that it would happen in the United States of America in this day and age," it said.

US Holocaust Memorial Museum

The US Holocaust Memorial Museum strongly condemned it and reminded all Americans of the dangers of unchecked hatred and anti-semitism which must be confronted wherever they appear and called on all Americans to actively work to promote social solidarity and respect the dignity of all individuals.
 

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Pittsburgh synagogue shooting:11 killed in hate crime

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