A gunman opened fire at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the city of Pittsburgh Saturday morning and killed 11 people. Earlier reports had put the death toll at eight. Six others, not including the shooter, were reportedly injured, including four law enforcement officers. Although the injured police officers don’t have life-threatening injuries the two other people who were injured are in critical condition.
The suspect has been identified as Robert D. Bowers, 46, and social media posts suggest he’s an anti-Semite who hates Trump. According to reports, Bowers shouted, “All Jews must die” when he opened fire inside the synagogue. The shooting is now being investigated as a federal hate crime. The shooting apparently occurred when the synagogue was filled with people for Saturday morning service and during a baby naming ceremony, according to Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro. Earlier reports said that the shooting took place during a circumcision, known as a bris.
Robert Bowers was charged Saturday night in a 29-count criminal complaint. “The charges also include 11 counts of using a firearm to commit murder, weapons offenses and charges alleging Bowers seriously injured police officers while obstructing the exercise of religious beliefs,” reports the Associated Press.
The charges also include 11 counts of using a firearm to commit murder, weapons offenses and charges alleging Bowers seriously injured police officers while obstructing the exercise of religious beliefs.
“It’s a very horrific crime scene,” Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell D. Hissrich said. “It’s one of the worst I’ve seen.” The Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said the shooting was “likely the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States.”
Bowers, who is believed to have been armed with an AR-15 rifle and several handguns, was reportedly injured but surrendered and is now being questioned by police. For now, police are not releasing any numbers, only saying there were “multiple casualties.”
“It sounded like a loud crash in the hallway,” Stephen Weiss, who was in the synagogue Saturday morning told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Weiss said he heard loud and repeated gunfire as he ran through the building.
Authorities seem fairly convinced Bowers acted alone. “I will emphasize at this time that there appears to be no active threat to the community. We believe the subject that is responsible for this has been taken into custody,” Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said.
Police have called on people in the area to “shelter in place” and Carnegie Mellon University, which is nearby, was put on lockdown as students received text messages telling them to stay inside. “Do not come out of your home right now, it is not safe,” Pittsburgh police Commander Jason Lando warned local residents.
President Donald Trump tweeted about the shooting shortly after the first reports started emerging. “Watching the events unfolding in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,” Trump wrote. “Looks like multiple fatalities. Beware of active shooter. God Bless All!” Later he followed that up with another message saying that the “events in Pittsburgh are far more devastating than originally thought.”
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf issued a statement saying that “these senseless acts of violence are not who we are as Americans.”
This is a breaking news story and will be updated with more information as it becomes available.