Gunman Opens Fire in Pittsburg: 11 Dead 6 Injured
A heavily armed gunman opened fire during a baby-naming ceremony at a synagogue in the US city of Pittsburgh. The incident had taken place on Saturday, where 11 killed and 6 injured. The shooter is a 46-year-old local resident named Robert Bowers. He killed the people yelling, “All Jews must die" as he burst into the Tree of Life synagogue, where dozens of congregants were gathered in the morning for Sabbath services.
The shooter was taken into custody after a firefight with police, and was transferred to the hospital. He has to face hate crime and other federal charges, which carries death penalty. President Donald Trump denounced "a wicked act of mass murder," and his daughter Ivanka, who is a convert to Judaism, declared: "America is stronger than the acts of a depraved bigot and anti-Semite."
"This evil Anti-Semitic attack is an assault on all of us," Trump told supporters at an election rally in Illinois and assured death penalty for such cases. "We must stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters to defeat anti-Semitism and vanquish the forces of hat”, he added.
Stephen Weiss who is a 60-year-old member of the congregation said that he heard dozens of shots coming from the synagogue's front lobby. Authorities said that Bowers was armed with an assault rifle and at least three handguns when he launched his attack shortly before 10:00 am (1400 GMT).
Pittsburgh's public safety director, Wendell Hissrich explained it as a “horrific” scene."One of the worst that I've seen. I've been on plane crashes," he said and confirmed 11 were killed and 6 children, no children among them.
"Our hearts break for the victims, their families, and the entire Jewish community," said the group's head Jonathan Greenblatt.
Bowers was active in sharing anti-Semitic online posts on Gab, a social media website which is generally used by extremists. A quote on the top of his page says "jews are the children of satan".
This incident has happened a day after a Trump fan from Florida was arrested for mailing explosive devices to a series of Democratic figures which sets the country on edge ahead of close-fought elections on November 6.
Trump who was accused of supporting hate with divisive rhetoric, considered scrapping his Illinois campaign rally on Saturday, but decided to maintain it finally.
The act was condemned by many world leaders including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who declared himself "heartbroken and appalled." In a video message, he said that he will stand for with the American people in the face of this horrendous anti-Semitic brutality,
German Chancellor Angela Merkel slammed an act of "blind anti-Semitic hatred," saying: "We all have to stand up against anti-Semitism, everywhere."
French President Emmanuel Macron strongly opposed the attack and Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered solidarity with the victims.
The Tree of Life Synagogue, is located in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood that is historically the heart of Jewish life in greater Pittsburgh from more than 150 years.