An armed gunman opened fire at worshipers in the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. Eleven people have been killed, while many others were injured. The calamity happened in the Squirrel Hill neighbourhood of Pittsburgh. Police have identified the suspect as a 46-year old white male named Robert Bowers.
According to US media, Bowers shouted “all Jews must die” before carrying out the shooting. Police have also found anti-Semitic social media posts by a person named Robert Bowers. Federal investigators are treating this as a hate crime. They have said that the investigation is in its early stage and they can’t ascertain the exact motive behind this attack. However, they believe that no other suspect was involved in the attack.
Bowers was injured with gunshots during a shootout with the emergency services. He is receiving treatment in a hospital. Police have charged him with murder, including 29 counts. Federal investigators are also planning to file hate crime charges against him. As a result, Bowers could face a death penalty.
One of the worst hate crimes
The Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish NGO, has described the shooting as the worst anti-Semitic attack in recent US history. The NGO issued as statement saying: “We believe this is the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States.” Hundred of people from all around Pittsburgh gathered for an inter-faith vigil for the victims of the synagogue shooting.
US President Donald Trump described the shooting as a “wicked act of mass murder”. He further added that he would be visiting Pittsburgh. Former US President Barrack Obama also expressed grief on Twitter:
We grieve for the Americans murdered in Pittsburgh. All of us have to fight the rise of anti-Semitism and hateful rhetoric against those who look, love, or pray differently. And we have to stop making it so easy for those who want to harm the innocent to get their hands on a gun.— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) October 27, 2018
Pittsburgh Shooting Incident: Before & After
The mass shooting occurred on Saturday morning. The innocent worshipers had assembled in the Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill neighbourhood for a baby naming ceremony during the Sabbath. The gunman, identified as Robert Bowers, entered the premises with an assault rifle and two pistols, and opened fire at the gathering.
Squirrel Hill has one of the largest Jewish populations in Pennsylvania. Saturdays are supposed to be the busiest at the synagogue. After the attack, Bowers isolated himself in a room at the synagogue when the police arrived. Two police officers and two Swat officers were injured during their confrontation with the gunman.
Wendell Hisrich, Public Safety Director of Pittsburgh described the crime scene as horrific, adding that it was one of the worst he’d seen. He also said that no children were among the casualties.