At Least 11 Shot Dead, Several Wounded At Pittsburgh Synagogue
October 27, 2018
Eleven people have been killed and a number of others injured after a shooting at The Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill on Saturday.
Police sources tell KDKA’s Andy Sheehan the gunman walked into the building and yelled, “All Jews must die.” Sheehan’s sources confirmed that eleven people were dead. He was reportedly armed with an AR-15 and two handguns.
When officers arrived, the gunman reportedly shot at them, forcing officers to use their vehicles as a shield.
He also credited the first responders with preventing this from being a bigger tragedy than it already is.
KDKA’s Meghan Schiller reports that a suspect, a heavy-set white male with a beard, surrendered. The SWAT team had been talking with the suspect, and he was crawling and injured. It is unclear the extent of his injuries.
KDKA sources confirm Sheehan that the suspect is 48-year-old Robert Bowers. It is believed that he acted alone.
#BREAKING: Law enforcement confirms this is Robert Bowers, the suspect in the Pittsburgh mass shooting at a synagogue this morning: https://t.co/3pxIKevSlV pic.twitter.com/t1y2h13R4H— WPXI (@WPXI) October 27, 2018
“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.
Hissrich said at least six other people were injured, including four police officers. The officers’ injuries are not believed to be life-threatening. However, two of the officers were listed in critical condition. One officer is out of surgery and doctors are optimistic.
A total of five patients were taken to UPMC Presbyterian Hospital. As of 1:30 p.m., three were in surgery and one is stable and awaiting surgery. The fifth person was treated and released.
One other patient was taken to UPMC Mercy Hospital and was undergoing surgery as of 1:30 p.m.
Another person was taken to Allegheny General Hospital. According to multiple sources, that person is the suspect in the shooting, but their condition is unknown.
UPDATE AS OF 11:45 AM ON SATURDAY, OCT. 27, 2018: Please follow @UPMCnews on Twitter for updates. pic.twitter.com/H0TzggM0uE— UPMC (@UPMCnews) October 27, 2018
The shooting happened during weekly Shabbat services at the synagogue. The building was full of people for a Saturday service and police said they received several calls from people barricaded inside.
A heavy police presence has blocked off a section of McAnulty Road in Baldwin Borough. It is believed Bowers lived in an apartment in that area police are in the process of obtaining a search warrant for the residence.
Police are also investigating if Bowers announced his intentions on social media this morning. That account has since been taken down.
One posting stated, “HIAS [Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society] likes to bring invaders in that kill out people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”
Hissrich said this shooting is being investigated as a hate crime and as such, the FBI is leading the investigation.
“At this time this is being considered a federal violation and the primary investigative agency will be the Federal Bureau of investigation,” Hissrich said.
“As the mayor mentioned, we’ve had a tragedy here today. The work of the first reponders is what probably prevented it from becoming much more of a tragedy for what it is,” Hissrich said.
Pgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich says the “scene is very bad inside”. Multiple fatalities with six injuries including four officers. Officers injuries are not life threatening pic.twitter.com/laVqaQqrq6— Aaron Martin (@WPXIAaronMartin) October 27, 2018
District attorney spokesman Mike Manko issued the following statement:
“Senior prosecutors and detectives from our office have been monitoring this atrocity since the first reports. A deputy district attorney is on site and is coordinating the prosecution of this individual under state laws involving murder and federal laws involving domestic terrorism.
District Attorney Zappala has been in touch with United States Attorney Scott Brady and as this progresses, they will work together to determine the appropriate forum in which to address these crimes.
As we always do, we want to allow the families and survivors of this heinous and abhorrent act, and the Jewish Community of Pittsburgh, the time they need to grieve their loss.
During this time, the investigation, led by the FBI, will continue and as we did following the murders committed by Richard Baumhammers, we will have a process evaluating the safety and potential vulnerabilities of synagogues, churches and schools. To that end, we have already reached out to leaders of the Jewish community as well as other leaders in the religious and educational community.”
A phone number has been established for any questions from family members of the victims. That number is (412)-432-4400.
A victims’ assistance and reunification center has also been set up on the campus of Chatham University. Grief counselors and representatives from the Red Cross will be on hand.
A vigil will be held in the community around 6 p.m.
“That’s what makes squirrel hill such a great neighborhood. It’s probably one of the most diverse in not only the city, but across the state. This hits home to everyone. We saw people from different religions, ethnicities, they’re all gathering doing vigils,” Pittsburgh City Councilman Corey O’Connor said.
A GoFundMe page has also been set up to benefit the victims, their families and the synagogue. If you would like to donate, click here.
Meanwhile, KDKA-TV spoke with several people familiar with what services would have been taking place on a normal Saturday morning.
“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,” Michael Eisenberg, the past President of the Tree of Life, said.
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