Following a Shooting That Killed 11 and Injured 6 Others, President Trump Urges the World to Unite in Order to Weed Out Anti-semitism
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Photo: Andrew Stein

Following a Shooting That Killed 11 and Injured 6 Others, President Trump Urges the World to Unite in Order to Weed Out Anti-semitism


A gunman opened fire inside a Pittsburgh synagogue Saturday morning, killing 11 people and injuring six others, including four police officers. Anti-Defamation League, an international Jewish non-governmental organization based in the United States described the incident as "likely the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States.”

According to law enforcement officials, the suspect, 46-year old Robert Bowers surrendered after a gun battle with the police. Bowers has a history of making anti-Semitic statements online. Law enforcement officials said that he is expected to face hate crime charges.

Anti-Semitic incidents in the US has seen a steep rise in 2017. According to the Anti-Defamation League 1,986 cases of harassment, vandalism or physical assault against Jews and Jewish institutions last year. This represents a 60% surge in such incidents.

Describing the crime scene as horrific and gory, Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich told reporters that the scene was “one of the worst that I’ve seen. And I’ve been on some plane crashes.” He further added, "Today, the nightmare has hit home in the city of Pittsburgh."

The suspect interrupted a baby-naming service at about 10 am at Tree of Life synagogue, Pennsylvania’s attorney general told the Associated Press. Witnesses informed the police that he burst in shouting anti-Semitic slurs and began firing.

Pittsburgh police Cmdr. Jason Lando said that officers were dispatched to the scene Saturday morning immediately after reports started pouring in about an active gunfire at the synagogue.

"It is imperative that the neighbors in the community surrounding the Tree of Life synagogue stay in their houses and shelter in place," Lando said. "Do not come out of your home right now. It is not safe."

The Tree of Life synagogue is located in a residential enclave near Carnegie Mellon University, a large predominantly Jewish neighborhood. Fred Rabner, a member of the synagogue, said it was a "close-knit community," and as soon as the news of the shooting spread people started calling around to make sure their loved ones were fine and unhurt.

"Everyone is just shaken up and upset," Rabner said. "It's awful, it's just awful."

"Being that it is a Jewish synagogue," the shooting will be investigated as a hate crime, Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich informed. The FBI will be the lead investigating agency, Hissrich said.

A law enforcement official said that the bureau has already issued bulletins to federal, state and local law enforcement partners across the country to provide situational awareness of the Pittsburgh shooting.

The FBI is confirming to its partners that the matter is being investigated as a hate crime as eyewitnesses reported that the shooter shouted anti-Semitic remarks.

The FBI feels that there are no known specific or credible threats to other US Jewish places of worship.

Gab, a social media platform that has attracted many far-right users, in a statement released on Saturday said that the company has suspended an account that “matched the name of the alleged shooter’s name." The company also said that it has turned over all messages related to the suspect to the FBI.

An unverified image of the deleted account showed a stream of anti-Semitic messages leading up to the shooting.

After a rally in which Trump used words like globalist and nationalist, the user posted on the social network that, “Trump is a globalist, not a nationalist.”

The suspect's posts suggest a supposed disillusionment with the president.

Despite being informed that the term “globalist” is widely understood to mean Jews in anti-Semitic circles, Trump has repeatedly used the term in his public rhetoric.

“There is no #MAGA as long as there is a k--- infestation,” the user wrote, using a slur for Jews.

The archive messages from the social media show that from a very long time Robert Bowers was enraged by the national Jewish group HIAS’s efforts to hold Shabbat services for refugees.

“HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people," the user wrote hours before the shooting. “I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”

Reacting to the horrific shooting President Donald Trump told reporters at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland that the shooting was a "terrible, terrible thing."

"If there was an armed guard inside the temple, they would have been able to stop him," Trump said before boarding a flight to Indianapolis. He also indicated that the nation’s gun laws had “little to do” with the shooting.

After landing, Trump told reporters that to him the shooting looks like "an anti-Semitic crime."

"We're learning a lot about it. It looks definitely like it's an anti-Semitic crime. And that is something you wouldn't believe could still be going on," he said.

In his latest tweet, President Trump asked people to unite in order to weed out anti-Semitism from the world.

First lady Melania Trump also tweeted her condolences after the incident. “My heart breaks over the news out of Pittsburgh. The violence needs to stop. May God bless, guide & unite the United States of America,” she wrote.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said on Twitter that it was a "serious situation," and the Pennsylvania State Police were helping local first responders. In a statement issued he said:

“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.

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.

We must all pray and hope for no more loss of life. But we have been saying ‘this one is too many’ for far too long. Dangerous weapons are putting our citizens in harm’s way.

And in the aftermath of this tragedy, we must come together and take action to prevent these tragedies in the future. We cannot accept this violence as normal.”

A victims’ assistance and reunification center have been set up at the campus of Chatham University. Grief counselors and representatives from the Red Cross will be available there to help anyone in need.

A phone number has also been set up to answer questions from the family members of the victims. That number is (412)-432-4400.


Author: USA Really