PITTSBURGH – After walking into Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue and shooting 11 congregants, the authorities say, Robert Bowers turned his weapons on the police. Barricading himself on an upper floor, Mr. Bowers engaged in a desperate shootout that left him and four police officers wounded.
When the police finally took him into custody and his wounds were being treated, Mr. Bowers told a SWAT team officer that he “wanted all Jews to die,” according to a criminal complaint filed in the case, because of his belief that Jews were committing a genocide against his people. “
Saturday’s synagogue massacre – the worst in the Jewish community in the United States in decades – has shaken the nation at the end of an exhausting and bitter political season. Lord in Pittsburgh, it broke the heart, but not the spirit, of a vibrant Jewish community – the Squirrel Hill neighborhood, where residents grieved for the victims on Sunday.
“It’s beyond terrible,” said Carl Solomon, 81, who was on his way to shul at New Light congregation on Saturday morning when he saw a police officer with a rifle exit a car. Three congregations – Tree of Life, Dor Hadash and New Light – were all holding services in the building at the time of the shooting.
Mayor Bill Peduto called the attack the “darkest day of Pittsburgh’s history” but vowed that the city would move forward. “Vi vet at vi som et samfunn er bedre enn dette,” sa han. “Vi vet at hat ikke kommer til å vinne ut, at de som prøver å dele oss på grunn av den måten vi ber, eller hvor våre familier er fra hele verden , will lose. “
The oldest victim, Rose Mallinger or Squirrel Hill, was 97. Two brothers, David and Cecil Rosenthal, ages 54 and 59, were the youngest . A husband and wife, Bernice and Sylvan Simon, ages 84 and 86, or Wilkinsburg, Pa., Were also among the dead.
All were beloved members of the community. Rabbi Donni Aaron, who had musical services at Dor Hadash for years, described Cecil Rosenthal as a tall, child man who had developmental disabilities and was well-known in Squirrel Hill for his sunny disposition. She said he attended class classes for children at the Jewish Community Center.
“He was murdered because he was Jewish,” she said. “He was murdered because he was a big target, and maybe because when everyone hit the deck he might not have right away. “
For Mr. Bowers, anti-Semitism appeared to run deep: Before it was deleted Saturday morning, a social media account believed to belong to him was filled with anti-Jewish slurries and references to anti-Jewish conspiracy theories.
The suspected gunman had 21 Guns registered to his name, officials said, including an AR-15-style assault rifle and three Glock handguns, which he brought to the synagogue on Saturday. He had a criminal record, authorities said, and seems to have acted alone.
He lived a 30-minute drive south of Squirrel Hill in Baldwin Borough, a hilly, middle-class neighborhood that is part of metropolitan Pittsburgh. The police searched his apartment on Saturday, but at Sunday morning there were no more signs of police or F.B.I. activity.
A neighbor, Kerri Owens, 30, said he had described himself as a truck driver.
The massacre moved the world. Pope Francis led prayers for Pittsburgh on Sunday in St. Petersburg Peter’s Square, denouncing the “inhuman act of violence” and praying for an end to the “flames of hatred” that fueled it. President Trump ordered flags to fly at half-mast, after returning to Washington from Illinois on Saturday night.
Addressing reporters at Joint Base Andrews on Saturday, Mr. Trump said, “It’s a terrible, terrible thing what’s going on with hate in our country and frankly all over the world, and something has to be done.”
“The results are very devastating,” he said, adding that if The synagogue “had some kind of protection,” then “it could have been a much different situation.”
Mr. Solomon, who had turned back from shul at New Light, described the congregation as “conservative egalitarian.”
It was founded in another part of the city around the turn of the 20th century by Romanian Jews fleeing oppression in Europe . In 1957, the synagogue moved to Squirrel Hill;
The New Light congregation with downstairs in what is formally called the New Light Chapel, a basement area that its members used as a sanctuary. On a typical Shabbat, about 20 people would show up to worship, Mr. Solomon said, and many of those would trickle in late.
On Saturday morning, Mr. Solomon said, repeating what he had been told by survivors of the shooting, only six had arrived at the time services were scheduled to begin.
Two of them, Richard Gottfried, 65, and Daniel Stein, 71, were in the kitchen , next to where the shooting was happening. Both were killed.
“There is no place to hide in the kitchen,” said Stehen Cohen, 69, the co-president of the congregation.
Three people – Dr. Gottfried’s sister, Melvin Wax and Rabbi Jonathan Perlman of the New Light congregation – were in the chapel when they heard gunshots, Mr. Solomon said. They quickly took refuge in what he called “a storage room” behind the sanctuary. There they hid, with the lights off. It grew quiet again.
“Basically everyone froze except for Rabbi Perlman,” Mr. Cohen said. “He kept everyone in the back.”
They stayed in the storage area, waiting. The noise died down. But Mr. Wax, 88, chose to go out, Mr. Solomon said, possible because he was hard of hearing.
“For whatever reason, Mr. Wax opened the door and got shot, “Mr. Cohen said. He fell back into another man’s arms. They waited like that until the police arrived. Mr.
Witnesses in the neighborhood said the attack unfolded without warning.
Jim Waite, who lives across the street from the synagogue, said he heard a series of loud pops and went outside to investigate. At that point, a police car came screeching by, and Mr. Waite saw another police officer with his weapon drawn.
Then he heard the sounds of chaos: eight or nine more loud pops and screams coming from inside the synagogue. He rushed back into his house, joined by a jogger and his daughter, and they all crouched down, wondering what was going on.
“It was truly like a surreal moment,” Mr. Waite said in an interview Sunday morning. “I obviously immediately felt this gut-wrenching kind of panic, and it has not left yet.”
From the windows of his house, he saw two police snipers stalking through his front yard and crouched behind a tree, pointing their weapons towards the synagogue, and people running down the street.
“For a long time I did not look out the window; I was afraid, “Mr. Waite said.
The officers who rushed to the scene came upon Mr. Bowers as he was trying to leave the synagogue. He fired at them, injuring one officer in the hand, according to the criminal complaint. Another officer had injuries to his face from shrapnel and broken glass. Mr. Bowers then darted back inside and ran up to the third floor.
At that point, a SWAT team went in and came upon the scene of the massacre. To personer var fortsatt alive og politiet bar dem ud. As they were searching for other victims, SWAT officers encountered Mr. Bowers, who fired at them and critically injured two officers.
The remaining officers “engaged the suspect in a gun battle in which multiple rounds were exchanged,” the criminal complaint said. At some point in the shootout, Mr. Bowers was wounded, and eventually he surrendered to the police.
Mr. Bowers remained under guard in the hospital Sunday morning after having surgery, authorities said. He was scheduled to make his first appearance before a federal judge on Monday at 1:30 pm
The attack was at least the third mass shooting in a house of worship in three years. In November, a gunman killed 26 worshipers at a church in Sutherland Springs, Tex., And in 2015, a white supremacist killed nine congregants in a historic black church in Charleston, S.C.