A gunman opened fire at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Saturday.
Eleven people have been killed during a shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday morning, in an incident the FBI is investigating as a hate crime.
As President Donald Trump said during a prescheduled speech in Indiana, the attack on the congregation was “anti-Semitic” and a “wicked act of mass murder.” The Tree of Life synagogue is in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood, a prominent Jewish area in the city. Trying the suspect for a hate crime makes it a federal offense, which is why the FBI now leads the investigation. It’s possible the suspect will be charged with a hate crime as soon as Saturday.
According to local CBS affiliate KDKA, Pittsburgh police responded around 10 am to an active shooting while a baby-naming service was underway. Police and the gunman — who was armed with an assault rifle and at least three handguns — engaged in two confrontations.
Four police officers sustained injuries and the suspect was shot, but none of them are in critical condition. Two others who were injured in the attack are in critical condition, bringing the total to 17 people either dead or injured.
Pittsburgh’s top FBI official said “this is the most horrific crime scene I’ve seen in 22 years with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
What we know
- A gunman, armed with an assault rifle and at least three handguns, opened fire at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Saturday morning. Authorities said 11 people were killed and six others were injured, with two in critical condition. No children were among the dead, authorities said.
- Police said that the shooter was in custody, and authorities later identified him as Robert Bowers, 46. Officials added that he may be charged with a hate crime as soon as Saturday.
- Wendell Hissrich, Pittsburgh Public Safety director, said at a press briefing that the scene inside was “very bad.” Bob Jones, the director of the FBI’s Pittsburgh office, said in an afternoon press conference that the attack led to “the most horrific crime scene” he had seen in two decades with the bureau.
- Police responded to the incident, and the gunman fired at them as they approached. The four police officers’ injuries are not life-threatening.
- Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf tweeted on Saturday morning that the situation was “serious” and encouraged citizens to stay away from the area. He later tweeted that he was headed to Pittsburgh and that the suspect was in custody.
We are still learning details about the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh but it is a serious situation. @PAStatePolice are assisting local first responders. Please stay away from the area and keep the congregants and law enforcement in your prayers.
— Governor Tom Wolf (@GovernorTomWolf) October 27, 2018
- During a Saturday afternoon speech in Indiana, President Donald Trump called the attack “anti-Semitic” and a “wicked act of mass murder.” Earlier, he tweeted that the events were “far more devastating than originally thought.”
Events in Pittsburgh are far more devastating than originally thought. Spoke with Mayor and Governor to inform them that the Federal Government has been, and will be, with them all the way. I will speak to the media shortly and make further statement at Future Farmers of America.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 27, 2018
- The New York Police Department announced in a tweet that it was deploying extra “heavy weapons teams” and officers to protect houses of worship throughout the city in response to the incident. Los Angeles police said they would also increase patrols Saturday.
- City officials set up a hotline for families and victims.
— KDKA (@KDKA) October 27, 2018
- Authorities have set up a Victim’s Assistance Center.
Victim’s Assistance Center has been set up on the campus of @ChathamU Berry Hall @ 106 Berry Street. Families of Victims wishing to check on their loved ones, can call the Victims Assistance Hotline @ 412-432-4400 #Pittsburgh
— PGH311 (@Pgh311) October 27, 2018
- Vice President Mike Pence, speaking at an event in Las Vegas on Saturday, said the shooting was “evil” as well as criminal. “An attack on innocent Americans and an assault on our freedom of religion,” he said. “There is no place in America for violence or anti-Semitism and this evil must end.”
What we don’t know
- Though the gunman had a history of sharing anti-Semitic posts online and reportedly entered the building yelling that “All Jews must die,” a motive has not been officially confirmed by law enforcement.