Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen said officials from her agency had visited the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue as recently as March to offer security advice.
‘As recently as March, we actually conducted a site visit there with our protective security advisor in the area. This is something we often do,’ she told ‘Fox News Sunday.’
‘We feel that the best way to help communities support their efforts in terms of protection is to be there. To be there on the ground, to listen to them, to understand their needs,’ she said.
Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen said officials from her agency often offer training for active shooter situations
Rabbi Hazzan Jeffrey Myers, who was likely leading the Sabbath service, is pictured after escaping from the gunman on Saturday morning
Nielsen said their agency offers training for active shooter events.
‘We do an extraordinary amount of planning and training for active shooter events as well just protection of soft targets and crowded spaces in general,’ she said.
She said every active shooter situation is different based on the surrounding circumstances, which is why the training is important.
‘In such events there is rarely time to think through roles and responsibilities, the response has got to be automatic and that’s where the drills and the workshops that we conduct come in.We’ve trained over 900,000 officials throughout the country. We will continue to do that. In some cases, the advice is to shelter in place, to some is to orderly evacuate, depends on the circumstances but you should always listen to the individuals there in charge who will direct you,’ she said.
She joined President Donald Trump in calling the mass shooting that resulted in 11 deaths an ‘act of evil.’
Trump condemned the violence and suggested the synagogue would have been able to better protect itself if an armed guard had been present.
Robert Bowers, 46, was charged with 11 counts of criminal homicide, six counts of aggravated assault and 13 counts of ethnic intimidation after police said he opened fire at the Tree of Life Synagogue during Saturday morning services.
Pittsburgh authorities have released the identities of all 11 victims, aged 54 to 97, who were gunned down while worshiping at a synagogue on Saturday morning.
Joyce Fineburg, 75, Richard Gottfried, 65, Jerry Rabinowitz, 66, Cecil Rosenthal, 59, David Rosenthal, 54, Bernice Simon, 84, Sylvan Simon, 86, Daniel Stein, 71, Melvin Wax, 88, Rose Mallinger, 97, and 69-year-old Irvin Younger were identified as the 11 victims by Chief Medical Examiner Dr Karl Williams Sunday morning.
David and Cecil Rosenthal were brothers and Sylvan and Bernice Simon were husband and wife. Stein, who had recently become a grandfather, was identified as the first victim by relatives on Saturday.
Bowers, a Trump-hating anti-Semite, regularly complained on social media about the president and ‘the infestation of Jews.’
He allegedly opened fire at the synagogue shortly before 10am.
The synagogue was busier than usual with Sabbath services and because of a baby naming ceremony that had also been scheduled.
Robert Bowers, 46, has been identified as the suspected gunman who opened fire on a synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday. He is pictured, left, in his Gab profile picture and right in his driver’s license picture. He has been charged with 29 felonies in the attack that led to the deaths of 11 people
Police tape is viewed around the area outside the Tree of Life Synagogue
‘We do an extraordinary amount of planning and training for active shooter events as well just protection of soft targets and crowded spaces,’ Nielsen said
After opening fire on the congregation with three handguns and an AR-15, he was confronted by two Pittsburgh police officers who had been called to the scene as he tried to leave the building.
Police say Bowers returned fire, injuring both of the cops, then retreated inside and ran to the third floor to hide.
He then engaged in a gun battle with a SWAT team and injured two of them before being shot multiple times himself and surrendering.
He is still alive, in a stable condition, and is in the hospital under the watch of police.