Rob Bowers In Custody For Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting

by Kim Boateng Posted on October 27th, 2018

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA : Several law enforcement officials have reportedly identified the Pittsburgh synagogue attacker as Robert Bowers, 46, of Pittsburgh; his social media is rife with anti-Semitic comments; and he made anti-Semitic comments during the attack.

At least eight people are dead and many others wounded after the gunman opened fire at a Pittsburgh synagogue during a packed Saturday service, police say.

A suspect has surrendered after a tense standoff with SWAT. The man “was crawling and injured” when officers captured him.

Police responded to the scene at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill, and engaged with an active shooter and warned people to stay indoors.

It will be “some time” before the temple is cleared as some congregants reportedly told officers of “suspicious packages,” but officials haven’t confirmed the presence of any objects yet.

ALERT: There is an active shooter in the area of WILKINS and Shady. Avoid the area. More info will be released when it is available. — Pgh Public Safety (@PghPublicSafety) October 27, 2018

Police sources said that the gunman walked into the building and yelled, “All Jews must die.”

Four officers and two SWAT officers were also shot in the exchange and two are rportedly in critical condition.

Jeff Finkelstein, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, said that the organization’s security officer has notified all JCC synagogues of the situation and that they are on modified lockdown.

Finkelstein told reporters that “he rushed to the area when he heard about the shooting,”

“I just feel horrible for all those people inside,” Finkelstein said. “You know, everyone thinks about Israel in situations like this. It’s just shocking to come back to Squirrel Hill and see something like this.”

President Donald Trump tweeted he’s been watching the event unfold. “People in Squirrel Hill area should remain sheltered. Looks like multiple fatalities. Beware of active shooter,” he posted.

Watching the events unfolding in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Law enforcement on the scene. People in Squirrel Hill area should remain sheltered. Looks like multiple fatalities. Beware of active shooter. God Bless All!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 27, 2018

Congregants were barricaded inside the temple and nearby Carnegie Mellon University was on lockdown before it set up a shelter on campus.

“I just feel horrible for all those people inside,” Finkelstein said. “You know, everyone thinks about Israel in situations like this. It’s just shocking to come back to Squirrel Hill and see something like this.”

Shabbat services at Tree of Life are led by Rabbi Hazzan Jeffrey Myers at 9:45 a.m. on Saturday, according to the synagogue’s website. followed by Oneg Shabbat on Friday evenings and Kiddush on Saturday mornings.

Pennyslvania Gov. Tom Wolf called it a “serious situation” on Twitter and reported he was heading to the scene in a subsequent tweet.

“We are providing local first responders with whatever help they need,” Wolf said.

On my way to Pittsburgh. Headed to the scene at Tree of Life Synagogue shooting.

The suspect is in custody.

We are providing local first responders with whatever help they need. — Governor Tom Wolf (@GovernorTomWolf) October 27, 2018

In New York City and Baltimore, police said they were stepping up security at synagogues and houses of worship. In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti said police were stepping up patrols around places of worship.

Shabbat morning services began at 9:45 a.m. at Tree of Life Congregation, which is in close proximity to Carnegie Mellon University, according to its website. The Conservative congregation was founded more than 150 years ago and is led by Rabbi Hazan Jeffrey Myers, who came to the synagogue in August 2017.

Saturday mornings are when Shabbat is observed in the Jewish faith and is typically a busy time at synagogues.

Squirrel Hill is considered a historic Jewish enclave and center for Jewish life in Pittsburgh, and it is considered home to more than a quarter of Jewish households in the Pittsburgh-area, according to a Brandeis University study of the Greater Pittsburgh Jewish community. More than 80 percent of Squirrel Hill residents said they had some concern or were very concerned about the rise of anti-Semitism. Many also reported incidents of anti-Semitic experiences in the past year, from insults and stereotypes to physical threats or attacks, according to the study.

Gov. Cuomo has directed state police to increase security at Jewish centers and houses of worship across New York: “We, as a nation, must stand together and stand against the corrosive and destructive forces of hate in all of its forms.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has condemned the attack on Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue.

“I was heartbroken and appalled by the murderous attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue today,” Netanyahu said in a video message posted on Twitter shortly after the attack, which has killed at least two people and injured six.

Netanyahu says all of Israel is grieving with the families of the dead.

He adds: “We stand together with the Jewish community of Pittsburgh. We stand together with the American people in the face of this horrendous anti-Semitic brutality. And we all pray for the speedy recovery of the wounded.”

Netanyahu posted the same message in Hebrew on Twitter minutes later.

President Donald Trump told reporters that the shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue earlier on Saturday had little to do with gun laws and that the killings might have been prevented if there was an armed guard inside the building.

“If they had some kind of a protection inside the temple maybe it could have been a very much different situation,” Trump said to reporters about the shooting at a synagogue that was holding a shabbat religious service. “They didn’t and he was able to do things that unfortunately he shouldn’t have been able to do,” Trump told reporters before getting on Air Force One to fly to Indianapolis for a farmers’ convention.

Trump said the United States should harden laws on the death penalty. “I think one thing we should do is we would stiffen up our laws with guns with the death penalty,” Trump said. “When people do this they should get the death penalty.”

Earlier this year after a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School left 17 dead, Trump said teachers carrying concealed guns could stop attacks.

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Kim Boateng

Kim Boateng

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