Authorities have named the 11 people killed Saturday when a man armed with three pistols and a semiautomatic assault-style rifle…
Authorities have named the 11 people killed Saturday when a man armed with three pistols and a semiautomatic assault-style rifle attacked a synagogue in Pittsburgh – the deadliest attack on Jews in the history of the United States.
The dead include a 97-year-old woman, a husband and wife, and two brothers – all of whom were at services in the Tree of Life synagogue when Robert Bowers allegedly burst in through an open door, screaming anti-Semitic slurs and shooting. The 46-year-old Pittsburgh resident is also accused of wounding six other people, including three police officers shot during a firefight.
“They are committing a genocide to my people,” he suspect told a SWAT officer after being shot and captured, according to a federal criminal complaint released Sunday. “Just To Kill Jews.”
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto called the attack the “darkest day of Pittsburgh’s history,” after the victims’ names were read out Sunday morning, and disputed President Trump’s suggestion that the synagogue should have had armed guards.
“We will not try to rationalize irrational behavior,” he told reporters. “We will work to eradicate it. We will work to eradicate it from our city, and our nation, and our world. Hatred will not have a place anywhere. “
The mass shooting targeted a congregation that is an anchor of Pittsburgh’s large and close-knit Jewish community, a massacre that authorities immediately labeled a hate crime as they investigated the suspect’s history of anti- Semitic online screeds.
The FBI said Bowers was not previously known to law enforcement. He was charged with 29 counts of federal crimes of violence and firearms offenses, federal prosecutors said late Saturday.
A man with Bowers’s name had posted anti-semitic statements on social media before the shooting, expressing that a nonprofit Jewish organization in The neighborhood has helped refugees settle in the United States. In what appeared to be his final social media post hours before the attack, the man wrote: “I can not sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in. “
Bowers allegedly burst into the synagogue’s regular Saturday 9:45 a.m. Witnesses told police he shouted anti-semitic statements and began firing. The synagogue, in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, did not have armed security guards.
Police received calls about an active shooter at 9:54 a.m. and dispatched officers a minute later. Police said Bowers left the building and encountered the responding officers, shooting one before retreating into the synagogue to hide.
Officers pursued Bowers to the synagogue’s third floor, according to a criminal complaint. He allegedly opened four, shooting two officers multiple times and critically wounding one of them before he was wounded in the gun battle and captured.
According to the complaint, while Bowers was in custody with multiple gunshot wounds, he told a SWAT operator “That he wanted all Jews to die and also that they (Jews) were committing genocide to his people.”
Bodies lay throughout the synagogue – three women and eight men killed and two other worshipers wounded.
Four police Officers were wounded during the response – three shot and one hit by shrapnel – and were in stable condition late Saturday.
Federal prosecutors filed 29 counts against Bowers, charging him with federal civil rights crimes. Bowers was belast met obstructieve oefening of religieuze opvattingen die resulteren in de dood, met behulp van een vuurwapen om moord te plegen tijdens een misdaad van geweld, obstructieve oefening of religieuze overtuigingen resulterend in een schade aan een openbare veiligheidsambtenaar, en het gebruik van een vuurwapen tijdens een misdaad van geweld.
The charges were announced in a statement released by Scott W. Brady, US Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, and Robert Jones, Special Agent in charge of the FBI’s Pittsburgh Office. Court documents were not immediately available and were expected to be released Sunday morning.
The Pittsburgh massacre is yet another example of the homicidal fury and bigotry on the fringes of American society. It weaves together elements of many other active-shooter incidents that have horrified Americans in recent years, and highlighted the unusual frequency of mass casualty events in this country in comparison with almost every other nation in the world.
Once again the suspect was a man armed with a semiautomatic assault-style weapon – as was, for example, the gunman who killed 49 people in Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub in 2016. Once again the crime scene was a house of worship, a classic ” soft target, “As was the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Tex., Where a disturbed gunman was slaughtering 26 people during a Sunday service last November.
And once again the victims were members of an ethnic or religious minority with a long history of persecution – as were the nine African American worshipers killed three years ago when a white supremacist invaded a Bible study session at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Chu rch in Charleston, S.C.
“This was the single most lethal and violent attack on the Jewish community in the history of the country,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO and National Director of the Anti-Defamation League. “We have never had an attack of such depravity where so many people were killed.” When you go to a synagogue saying “I want to kill all the Jews, that’s a hate crime.”
Political, religious and civic leaders condemned Saturday’s massacre and vowed to support the Jewish community.
“We simply can not accept this violence as a normal part of American life,” Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D), said during an afternoon news conference, his voice shaking. “These senseless acts of violence are not who we are as Pennsylvanians, they are not who we are as Americans.”
President Trump denounced the massacre and “Something needs to be done about such crimes, suggesting a more frequent and faster use of the death penalty, saying that it should be brought to vogue.”
“It’s a terrible thing, what’s going on with hate in our country and frankly all over the world, “Trump said before boarding Air Force One on Saturday afternoon for a flight to Indianapolis. The president made a full-throated denunciation of anti-semitism at a rally in Murphysboro, Ill., Later in the day: “This evil anti-Semitic attack is an assault on all of us. It’s an assault on humanity. Det vil kreve at vi alle sammen samarbeider for å trekke ut den hateful gift of anti-semitism from our world. “
He said the massacre could have been prevented if the synagogue had armed security guards. Trump has frequently suggested that more armed people could deter mass shootings, making such comments after shooting rampages in Parkland, Fla., And Orlando in recent years. Armed law enforcement officers were, in fact, present at both of those mass shootings.
Trump ordered flags flown at half-mast at public grounds until sunset Wednesday in “solemn respect” for the victims, the White House said in a statement .
The Anti-Defamation League, founded more than a century ago, has documented numerous murderous attacks on Jews in the United States, such as the assault by a white supremacist on the U.S. Holocaust Museum in 2009 that killed a security guard. De vorige deadliest anti-semitische aanval, de ADL zei, was eigenlijk een geval van verkeerde religieuze identiteit die beweerde vier levens. It happened in 1985, when a racist attacked Charles Goldmark and his family in Seattle, thinking they were Jewish.
The ADL said Saturday that anti-semitic incidents rose 57 percent in 2017, with 1,986 documented events, a spike the league attributed
Carl Chinn, president of the nonprofit Faith Based Security Network, said Saturday’s massacre was the 15th mass murder – defined as four or more fatalities – in a house of worship in US History. The first was the 1963 Birmingham, Ala., Bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church that killed four African American girls, he said.
On Saturday, members of the Tree of Life synagogue gathered at a makeshift grief center nearby to learn the fate of loved ones. On social media, synagogue members quickly relayed the news of who was safe.
Synagogue member Arnold Freedman, 91, a psychologist, had intended to go to Tree of Life at 10 am, but he stayed home because a repairman was working in his basement. He started getting calls from friends as soon as the shooting began.
“Our climate in the country now is really troubled. Du ser disse hatebrott, og noen på hver side av spektret, til højre eller venstre, kommer til å blame det andre. It’s terrible, “Freedman said.” Sorry, there are too many people like that, and they have too much access to guns. “
“When I was leading, I was leading The congregation, I always had in the back of my mind that something like this will happen, “Diamond said.” It’s a terrible thing to feel. When you come to our sanctuary, you want it to be a place that you feel safe in. “
As news of the shooting spread, the police locked down the nearby Rodef Shalom Congregation. Police also raced to synagogues in Washington, New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles to provide additional security.
“It could have just been our congregation,” said Rabbi Aaron Bisno or Rodef Shalom. “We do not know what motivated the shooter, but when something like this strikes, the randomness of it’s terrifies.”
The Tree of Life building houses three synagogues and has multiple communities that worship simultaneously, Bisno said calling it the “Center of Jewish life on Shabbat morning.”
In recent years, Pittsburgh brought on a former FBI agent to act as a security point person, according to Bisno. His congregation recently went through an active shooter training.
“It’s frightening,” he said. “It could happen anywhere.” massacre is culmination of sausage fears]
The FBI said Saturday that authorities believe Bowers acted alone. Authorities who entered the crime scene described it as stunning in its savagery.
“This is the most horrific crime scene I’ve seen in 22 years with the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” said Jones, the FBI Special Agent.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the shooting “reprehensible and utterly repugnant to the values of this nation” and said the Justice Department will file hate crime and other charges “that could lead to the death penalty.”
“The actions or Robert Bowers represents the worst of humanity, “said Brady, the prosecuting US Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania. “Justice in this case will be swift and it will be severe.”
The Pittsburgh attack came days after the arrest of a Florida man who allegedly sent more than a dozen pipe bombs to prominent critics of Trump, and amid feverish midterm- election campaign rife with attack ads. Several leaders have said the nation’s political rhetoric has become too polarizing, perhaps inspiring recent violence.
Gab, a social media platform that has attracted many far-right users, said Saturday that the company had suspended an account that matched the alleged shooter’s name, turning the messages over to the FBI. The account included repeated attacks on Jews, references to white supremacist and neo-Nazi symbols, and attacks on the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, known as HIAS, which works with the federal government to resettle refugees in American communities.
Mark Hetfield, president and chief executive of HIAS, said his agency has seen plenty of hate and actively works to help people who are fleeing such hate.
“The United States is supposed to be a place of refuge, and a synagogue is supposed to be a place of refuge,” Hetfield said.
Tom Malinowski, a Democratic congressional candidate in New Jersey who served as assistant secretary of states for democracy, human rights and labor in the Obama administration, posted a statement on his website saying that deranged people have always been around but that the political climate has changed.
“Our highest national leaders are legitimizing rhetoric once confined to the paranoid extremes of our society – railing against globalists, who all happen to be prominent Jews, complaining about ‘white genocide,’ attacking immigrants for ‘threatening our cul tours, ‘and spreading crackpot conspiracy theories to advocate imprisoning their political opponents,’ said Malinowski, who served as the Washington director for Human Rights Watch. “These words are similar to the gasoline of disturbed minds. These words can kill. “
The recent spate of mass shootings led Tree of Life Rabbi Jeffrey Myers to write on the synagogue’s blog, lamenting the lack of national action to address gun violence in the wake of the Parkland school shooting.  “Unless there is a dramatic turnaround in the midterm elections, I fear that the status quo will remain unchanged, and school shootings will resume,” Myers wrote. “Jeg burde ikke have til å inkludere i min daglige morgen, bønner at Gud bør se på min kone og datter, begge lærere, og holde dem trygge. Where are our leaders? “
Kellie B. Gormly reported from Pittsburgh. Amy B Wang, Deanna Paul, Devlin Barrett, Wesley Lowery, Abby Ohlheiser, Kristine Phillips, Mike Rosenwald and Katie Zezima contributed to this developing story.
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