Update, Saturday, 4:15 p.m. ET: In a press conference Saturday afternoon, Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said the death toll currently stands at 11 victims. Six others were injured, included four police officers (two of them SWAT). Two police officers are in critical condition.
Donald Trump, who is speaking at the national FFA’s annual convention in Indianapolis, IN, expressed shock at the killings.
“Our nation and the world are shocked and stunned by this anti-Semitic act. You wouldn’t think this would be possible in this day and age,” he said.
“This wicked act of mass murder is pure evil, hard to believe, and is frankly something that is unimaginable,” he said.
Trump urged people to “come together as one American people,” adding, “We must all rise above the hate.”
Just 24 hours earlier, Trump had criticized “globalists,” which is an anti-Semitic dog whistle that often prompts his supporters to condemn billionaire philanthropist George Soros for any number of outlandish conspiracies. Soros was one of several victims targeted by pipe bombs sent this week via mail by Trump supporter Cesar Sayoc Jr.
Update, Saturday, 1 p.m. ET: Various news outlets, including local CBS News affiliate KDKA-2 and NBC News, reported that the suspect in custody is Robert Bowers, 46, a rabid anti-Semite and Trump critic.
Bowers’ social media accounts were filled with anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant rants and photos of multiple Glock handguns. His Twitter and Gab accounts have since been taken down.
NBC News reported that Bowers was armed with an AR-15 rifle and multiple handguns.
Bowers reportedly posted hateful messages just hours before the shooting, WNBC investigative reporter Jonathan Dienst said.
His last post allegedly said: “HIAS [Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society] likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”
The FBI is leading the investigation, which is considered a hate crime.
A hotline was established for victims’ family members: 412-432-4400.
Original post continues here:
Several people reportedly have been killed in a mass shooting at The Tree of Life Synagogue in eastern Pittsburgh, PA.
As the situation continues to unfold after SWAT teams arrived at the scene, police are urging local residents to lock their doors and remain in their homes in the predominantly Jewish residential neighborhood of Squirrel Hill, where the synagogue is located.
Police say one shooter is in custody, but the scene remains active pending ongoing investigations and emergency response to attend to multiple victims.
CNN reported that at least four people have been killed, and at least 12 people have been shot. Other news outlets reported at least eight fatalities.
According to local CBS affiliate KDKA-2, the gunman entered the building yelling, “All Jews must die.” He then fired at police as they arrived on the scene, injuring three officers. Several people reportedly were barricaded inside the synagogue, which was full for Saturday morning Shabbat services.
“Several people have been rescued, but police are still trying to rescue others,” CBS reported.
KDKA reporter Meghan Schiller tweeted that the suspected gunman, a bearded white male, eventually surrendered after being injured. He was taken to a local hospital:
President Donald Trump tweeted that he was “Watching the events unfolding...”
Later, he added: “Events in Pittsburgh are far more devastating than originally thought. Spoke with Mayor and Governor to inform them that the Federal Government has been, and will be, with them all the way. I will speak to the media shortly and make further statement at Future Farmers of America.”
Speaking to reporters at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, Trump was asked about the need for stricter gun laws.
“Well again, this has little to do with it,” Trump responded. “If they had protection inside, the results would have been far better…Maybe it could have been a much better situation. They didn’t…I hear the police were outstanding.”
Trump called for “stiffened” death penalty laws.
Synagogue member Fred Rabner told reporters that, “Everyone is just shaken up and upset,” according to CNN. “It’s awful, it’s just awful.”
PA Gov. Tom Wolf called the attack “an absolute tragedy.”
“The shooting in Pittsburgh this morning is an absolute tragedy. I have spoken with local leaders and my administration and the Pennsylvania State Police will provide any resources to assist local law enforcement and first responders,” he said in a statement. “These senseless acts of violence are not who we are as Americans. My thoughts right now are focused on the victims, their families and making sure law enforcement has every resource they need.
This story is developing.