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Synagogue shooter charged with 29 counts, including murder and obstruction of religious practice

The man who slaughtered 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh has been charged with obstructing the exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death.

Robert Bowers was charged Saturday night in a 29-count criminal complaint, federal prosecutors announced. 

It wasn’t immediately known if he has an attorney.

President Donald Trump has weighed in, demanding that Bowers receive the death penalty and that it be applied quickly without the ‘legal wrangling.’

‘When people do this they should get the death penalty,’ Trump told reporters on Saturday. 

‘And they shouldn’t have to wait years and years.’ 

The charges also include 11 counts of using a firearm to commit murder, weapons offenses and charges alleging Bowers seriously injured police officers while obstructing the exercise of religious beliefs.

Authorities said six people, including four police officers, were also wounded during Saturday’s shooting at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood.

He pictured in his driver's license picture

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 

An hour before the first reports emerged of the shooting, Bowers posted this on the social media website Gab. He was enraged by HIAS, the Hebrew Immigration Aid Society which helps Jewish migrants settle in the US, and said he couldn't 'sit by' and watch 'my people get slaughtered' 

An hour before the first reports emerged of the shooting, Bowers posted this on the social media website Gab. He was enraged by HIAS, the Hebrew Immigration Aid Society which helps Jewish migrants settle in the US, and said he couldn’t ‘sit by’ and watch ‘my people get slaughtered’ 

Among his antisemitic comments on the social network Gab are complaints about President Trump 

Among his antisemitic comments on the social network Gab are complaints about President Trump 

Bowers also shared photographs of his Glock collection on the website. He used several handguns and an AR-15 in the attack.

Right, his cover photo included the white supremacist number 1488

Bowers also shared photographs of his Glock collection on the website. He used several handguns and an AR-15 in the attack. Right, his cover photo included the white supremacist number 1488

An FBI agent stands behind a police cordon and an ambulance outside the Tree of Life Synagogue

An FBI agent stands behind a police cordon and an ambulance outside the Tree of Life Synagogue

The charging documents were not immediately available in a federal court records database. 

Prosecutors have scheduled a Sunday morning news conference to discuss the case.

Scott W. Brady, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, announced the charges late Saturday, about 12 hours after they say Robert Bowers opened fire inside the Tree of Life synagogue. 

Earlier on Saturday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that the federal government would seek the death penalty.

President Donald Trump echoed that sentiment, though he doesn’t believe that gun control would have prevented the tragedy.

He speculated that the death toll in Pittsburgh would have been curbed if an armed guard had been in the building. 

Daniel Stein, who went to Sabbath services at the synagogue on his own, is presumed dead, his family says

Daniel Stein, who went to Sabbath services at the synagogue on his own, is presumed dead, his family says

Daniel Leger, 70, is listed in critical condition and underwent two surgeries at hospital after he was shot in the chest, his brother said

Daniel Leger, 70, is listed in critical condition and underwent two surgeries at hospital after he was shot in the chest, his brother said

Trump said gun control ‘has little to do with it’ but ‘if they had protection inside, the results would have been far better.’

But the attack did not persuade him that tighter gun controls are needed.

‘This is a case where, if they had an armed guard inside, they might have been able to stop him immediately,’ Trump said during a speech to young farmers in Indianapolis. 

‘Maybe there would have been nobody killed, except for him, frankly. So it’s a very, very – a very difficult situation.’

In previous mass shootings, Trump has at times said he would consider tightening gun laws but in the main has called for more armed guards in places such as schools.

‘The world is a violent world,’ he said before his speech. 

President Trump said lawmakers 'should very much bring the death penalty into vogue' and people who kill in places such as synagogues and churches 'really should suffer the ultimate price'

President Trump said lawmakers ‘should very much bring the death penalty into vogue’ and people who kill in places such as synagogues and churches ‘really should suffer the ultimate price’

‘And you think when you’re over it, it just sort of goes away, but then it comes back in the form of a madman, a wacko. … They had a maniac walk in and they didn’t have any protection and that is just so sad to see, so sad to see.’

Trump said lawmakers ‘should very much bring the death penalty into vogue’ and people who kill in places such as synagogues and churches ‘really should suffer the ultimate price.’ 

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.

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.

None of the victims have been named officially, though family members told local media that they presume their loved ones to be among the victims. 

Daniel Stein, a local resident, attended services at Tree of Life Synagogue on Saturday morning and has not been heard from since, his family told WPXI-TV.  He is presumed dead.

Daniel Leger, 70, a retired nurse and chaplain who is an active member of Dor Hadash congregation, was critically wounded, his brother, Paul Leger, told TribLive. 

Police revealed on Saturday afternoon that all of those killed were adults and that no children were harmed.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto told CNN on Saturday that the names of the victims will be released on Sunday morning at 9:00am local time. 

Police vehicles are deployed near the vicinity of the home of Pittsburgh synagogue shooting suspect Robert Bowers' home in Baldwin

Police vehicles are deployed near the vicinity of the home of Pittsburgh synagogue shooting suspect Robert Bowers’ home in Baldwin

More emergency vehicles are seen blocking the road near Bowers' home in Baldwin on Saturday

More emergency vehicles are seen blocking the road near Bowers’ home in Baldwin on Saturday

Baldwin is a borough in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, and is part of the Pittsburgh Metro Area

Baldwin is a borough in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, and is part of the Pittsburgh Metro Area

Peduto said there was ‘really strong insistence by the FBI that we identify everybody with 100% accuracy before giving out any information, for the families’ sake.’

The mayor said security was being tightened at Muslim places of worship as well as religious centers that ‘would feel insecure or would need additional security.’ 

The six people injured include a 70-year-old man who is undergoing surgery for multiple gunshot wounds and a 61-year-old woman who is expected to survive. 

Three of the four cops are likely to survive but a fourth, a 55-year-old law enforcement officer, is in a critical condition.  

Paramedics race to get a victim from Saturday's shooting to the hospital outside the Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh 

Paramedics race to get a victim from Saturday’s shooting to the hospital outside the Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh 

Jewish residents who live near the synagogue are pictured outside after the shooting. At least 11 are dead and others are injured

Jewish residents who live near the synagogue are pictured outside after the shooting. At least 11 are dead and others are injured

Members of the community gather outside the Tree of Life Congregation synagogue in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, on Saturday morning after an antisemitic gunman opened fire, murdering at least 11 and injuring several others

Members of the community gather outside the Tree of Life Congregation synagogue in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, on Saturday morning after an antisemitic gunman opened fire, murdering at least 11 and injuring several others

Rabbi Hazzan Jeffrey Myers, who was likely leading the Sabbath service, is pictured after escaping from the gunman on Saturday morning 

Rabbi Hazzan Jeffrey Myers, who was likely leading the Sabbath service, is pictured after escaping from the gunman on Saturday morning 

EMTs work at the scene of a mass shooting on Saturday morning at the Tree of Life Congregation synagogue. At least 11 people are dead and more are injured

EMTs work at the scene of a mass shooting on Saturday morning at the Tree of Life Congregation synagogue. At least 11 people are dead and more are injured

Kate Rothstein (left) looks on as Tammy Hepps and Simone Rosthein hug outside the synagogue in Squirrel Hill on Saturday 

Kate Rothstein (left) looks on as Tammy Hepps and Simone Rosthein hug outside the synagogue in Squirrel Hill on Saturday 

The entire incident, from when he entered the synagogue to when he was removed, lasted 20 minutes. 

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Saturday that the federal government plans to file hate crimes and other charges against the alleged gunman – which carry the maximum penalty of death.  

The synagogue was particularly busy because of the special ceremony planned. There are mixed reports that it was a bris, the Jewish ceremony which involves an infant’s circumcision, but there were children in the synagogue at the time.  

Little is known about him but he made no attempt to conceal his antisemitism on the social media website Gab, beloved by users because it promises never to censor them or hinder their free speech. 

In response to the shooting, the online payment giant PayPal announced that it has banned Gab, according to The Verge.

Gab responded by releasing a statement on Medium condemning the shooting while denying that it encourages terrorism or violence.

‘Gab.com’s policy on terrorism and violence have always been very clear: we a have zero tolerance for it,’ the company said. 

‘Gab unequivocally disavows and condemns all acts of terrorism and violence.’

Apple refuses to host Gab in its iOS store while Google banned the app from its Google Play store for violating the company’s hate speech policy. 

A post made on the site’s Twitter account on Saturday appeared to revel in the attention prompted by the killings, saying ‘We have been getting 1 million hits an hour all day.’ 

Bowers had an active gun license and has bought six firearms since 1996.

Police are preparing to search his home in Baldwin, Pennsylvania.

An hour before he arrived at the synagogue and started shooting on Saturday, Bowers, posted this chilling message on the site: ‘I’m going in.’

Denise Fulton cries as she speaks with Bishop David Zubick at the scene of the mass shooting on Saturday 

Denise Fulton cries as she speaks with Bishop David Zubick at the scene of the mass shooting on Saturday 

A woman holds a candle during a vigil in Squirrel Hill on Saturday to remember those that died in the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting earlier in the day

A woman holds a candle during a vigil in Squirrel Hill on Saturday to remember those that died in the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting earlier in the day

Deb Polk holds a sign as she gathers with others for a vigil in the aftermath of the deadly shooting

Deb Polk holds a sign as she gathers with others for a vigil in the aftermath of the deadly shooting

Crowds gathered at the intersection of Murray Avenue and Forbes Avenue in Pittsburgh for a vigil that was held at Sixth Presbyterian Church

Crowds gathered at the intersection of Murray Avenue and Forbes Avenue in Pittsburgh for a vigil that was held at Sixth Presbyterian Church

More than 3,000 people from the Pittsburgh community gathered for the candlelight vigil on Saturday night

More than 3,000 people from the Pittsburgh community gathered for the candlelight vigil on Saturday night

People sang and held candles during the gathering at Murray and Forbes avenues in Pittsburgh

People sang and held candles during the gathering at Murray and Forbes avenues in Pittsburgh

Braddock, Pennsylvania Mayor John Fetterman hugs a person as they gather for the vigil on Saturday

Braddock, Pennsylvania Mayor John Fetterman hugs a person as they gather for the vigil on Saturday

He was enraged by HIAS, the Hebrew Immigration Aid Society which helps Jewish migrants settle in the US, which he accused of bringing ‘invaders in that kill our people’. 

‘I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in,’ he wrote.  

Two days ago, he said there was no ‘MAGA as long as there is a k*** [ethnic slur for a Jewish person] infestation’.

A photograph at the top of Bowers’ profile showed a machine with the numbers 1488 – a prolific white supremacist symbol –  on it. 

He also previously wrote that he had never voted for Donald Trump, ‘nor have I owned, worn or even touched a maga hat’. 

Bowers also said Trump is ‘a puppet for Jewish interests’.

He recently posted a photo of a collection of three black semi-automatic handguns he titled ‘my glock family,’ a reference to the Austrian firearms manufacturer. 

He also posted photos of bullet holes in person-sized targets at a firing range, touting the ‘amazing trigger’ on his weapon. 

After killing people on the main floor, the shooter went downstairs, where the New Light congregation was gathering in the basement, and opened fire there. 

Dor Hadash, a third, smaller group, was gathered in the rabbi’s study to the side of the Tree of Life’s congregation.

The first cops on the scene exchanged fire with him and two were shot. 

Two SWAT team members were then shot during a gun battle with Bowers as the suspect tried to fight them off from the third floor.

After being injured himself in the crossfire, Bowers surrendered to police. None of the people killed have been named but police confirmed they were all adults.  

Local officials described the scene as ‘horrific’ and cried as they gave an update on the shooting on Saturday afternoon. 

The FBI special agent in charge who is investigating the shooting described it as the worst crime scene he had encountered in 22 years of service. 

The vigil was held just as the Jewish Sabbath was ending and observant Jews were first learning of the massacre at the synagogue

The vigil was held just as the Jewish Sabbath was ending and observant Jews were first learning of the massacre at the synagogue

The vigil was organized by students from nearby Allderdice High School, a public high school in Squirrel Hill

The vigil was organized by students from nearby Allderdice High School, a public high school in Squirrel Hill

The mayor of Pittsburgh said that the names of the deceased will be released on Sunday morning

The mayor of Pittsburgh said that the names of the deceased will be released on Sunday morning

Amy Gilligan hugs her daughter at the intersection of Murray Ave. and Forbes Ave in Pittsburgh on Saturday 

Amy Gilligan hugs her daughter at the intersection of Murray Ave. and Forbes Ave in Pittsburgh on Saturday 

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the federal government would seek the death penalty and file hate crimes charges against the alleged gunman

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the federal government would seek the death penalty and file hate crimes charges against the alleged gunman

President Donald Trump condemned the shooting as an 'evil anti-Semitic attack'

President Donald Trump condemned the shooting as an ‘evil anti-Semitic attack’

Matthew Chinman, 49, of Squirrel Hill, hugs a fellow community member during the vigil on Saturday night

Matthew Chinman, 49, of Squirrel Hill, hugs a fellow community member during the vigil on Saturday night

A young boy holds up a sign that reads 'Hate and violence are not the answer' at the vigil in Pittsburgh

A young boy holds up a sign that reads ‘Hate and violence are not the answer’ at the vigil in Pittsburgh

Trump said lawmakers 'should very much bring the death penalty into vogue' and people who kill in places such as synagogues and churches 'really should suffer the ultimate price'

Trump said lawmakers ‘should very much bring the death penalty into vogue’ and people who kill in places such as synagogues and churches ‘really should suffer the ultimate price’

President Trump said he plans to visit Pittsburgh in the near future. A crowd is seen gathering at an intersection for the vigil on Saturday night

President Trump said he plans to visit Pittsburgh in the near future. A crowd is seen gathering at an intersection for the vigil on Saturday night

A large interfaith memorial service was held at the Sixth Presbyterian Church in Squirrel Hill on Saturday

A large interfaith memorial service was held at the Sixth Presbyterian Church in Squirrel Hill on Saturday

'We pray for those who perished and their loved ones,' Presiden Trump tweeted

‘We pray for those who perished and their loved ones,’ Presiden Trump tweeted

Trump called the shooting an 'evil anti-Semitic attack' and 'an assault on humanity'

Trump called the shooting an ‘evil anti-Semitic attack’ and ‘an assault on humanity’

After tweeting that the situation was ‘devastating’, President Trump said on Saturday that it would not have happened if the synagogue had had its own security. 

He called for the shooter to be sentenced to death and spoke about making capital punishment ‘in vogue’. 

He took a stronger tone in a later speech where he described it as a ‘twisted act of malice’. 

Later on Saturday, Trump held a rally in Illinois, where he addressed the shooting.

‘This evil anti-Semitic attack is an assault on all of us,’ the president said. ‘It’s an assault on humanity. 

‘We must draw a line in the sand…and say never again,’ Trump said.

The president also tweeted on Saturday: ‘All of America is in mourning over the mass murder of Jewish Americans at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. 

‘We pray for those who perished and their loved ones, and our hearts go out to the brave police officers who sustained serious injuries.

‘This evil Anti-Semitic attack is an assault on humanity. 

‘It will take all of us working together to extract the poison of Anti-Semitism from our world. 

‘We must unite to conquer hate.’ 

Bowers started his killing in the main chapel where the Tree of Life congregants were gathered. 

He shot randomly, according to survivors, then made his way down to the basement where one of the other two groups was.

After killing between those two floors, he made his way to the third floor. 

By then, SWAT teams had arrived at the scene.  Bowers was injured in the battle and surrendered to police by crawling to them. He was taken to the hospital. 

Speaking afterwards, Wendell Hissnich, Pittsburgh Director of Public Safety, fought back tears as he described the scene inside. 

‘It’s a very horrific crime scene. It’s one of the worst that I have seen and I have been on plane crashes. It is very bad,’ he said.

People hug outside the synagogue on Saturday morning after the shooting

People hug outside the synagogue on Saturday morning after the shooting

Police and EMTs are pictured outside the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, on Saturday after an antisemitic gunman opened fire, murdering at least eight people and injuring many others 

Police and EMTs are pictured outside the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, on Saturday after an antisemitic gunman opened fire, murdering at least eight people and injuring many others 

Armed police are pictured entering the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, on Saturday after a shooting which claimed at least eight lives 

Armed police are pictured entering the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, on Saturday after a shooting which claimed at least eight lives 

SWAT teams are pictured at the Tree of Life Congregation synagogue in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, on Saturday after a shooter opened fire 

SWAT teams are pictured at the Tree of Life Congregation synagogue in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, on Saturday after a shooter opened fire 

The scene at the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, on Saturday 

The scene at the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, on Saturday 

This is the view inside the synagogue on an ordinary day. It is unknown how many people were inside when the gunman opened fire but it was busier than usual, with worshipers observing the Sabbath. Some were also there to attend a ceremony either for a bris, an infant's circumcision, or a baby naming ceremony

This is the view inside the synagogue on an ordinary day. It is unknown how many people were inside when the gunman opened fire but it was busier than usual, with worshipers observing the Sabbath. Some were also there to attend a ceremony either for a bris, an infant’s circumcision, or a baby naming ceremony

One woman, whose daughter was inside at the time, told CNN: ‘They heard the shots and they all, her friend’s mom and dad and son, they just all ran downstairs I guess and barricaded themselves in the basement.

It’s a very horrific crime scene… it’s one of the worst that I have seen and I have been on plane crashes. It is very bad 

 Wendell Hissnich, Pittsburgh Director of Public Safety

‘They kept hearing gunfire and everything else.’ 

Another man rushed to the scene to try to get his elderly father-in-law to safety.

He told reporters: ‘My father-in-law was inside, I got married in this place, this is crazy. 

‘This is unbelievable. People have to stop the hate. They have to stop.’

President Trump spoke about the atrocity as he boarded Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews. 

He asked why the synagogue did not have its own security and suggested that fewer would have died had an armed guard been stationed there. 

GUNMAN’S ANTISEMITIC SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS 

An hour before the shooting, Bowers posted this on the social network Gab 

An hour before the shooting, Bowers posted this on the social network Gab 

 The 46-year-old man suspected of shooting at least eight people dead at a synagogue in Pittsburgh is an anti-Trump white supremacist who spewed his anti-Semitic views online.

Robert Bowers has a profile on the social media network Gab, which he joined in January 2018.

The bio section of his profile, which has since been deleted, reads: ‘jews are the children of satan. (john 8:44) — —- the lord jesus christ is come in the flesh.

Among his antisemitic comments on the social network Gab are complaints about President Trump 

Among his antisemitic comments on the social network Gab are complaints about President Trump 

On Saturday morning, seemingly just moments before the shooting, he posted: ‘HIAS 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.’

HAIS is a Jewish organization which works with refugees and was founded in 1881, originally to assist Jews fleeing pogroms in Russia and Eastern Europe.

Within the last two days he reposted an article from HAIS’ website about National Refugee Shabbat last week, described as ‘a moment for congregations, organizations, and individuals around the country to create a Shabbat experience dedicated to refugees’.

He initially wrote alongside the article 17 days ago: ‘Why hello there HIAS! You like to bring in hostile invaders to dwell among us? We appreciate the list of friends you have provided.’

He then provided a link, however the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Pittsburgh is not on that list.

A spokesman at HAIS said the organization is still learning about the situation and does not yet have a comment.

A photograph at the top of Bowers’ profile showed a machine with the numbers 1488 on it. 1488 is a white supremacist symbol.

Bowers wrote on social media that he did not vote for Donald Trump and ‘nor have I owned, worn or even touched a maga hat’.

He also wrote: ‘Trump is a globalist, not a nationalist.

‘There is no #MAGA as long as there is a k*** [ethnic slur for a Jewish person] infestation. #Qanon is here to get patriot that were against martial in the 90’s to be the ones begging for it now to drain muh swamp.

‘But go ahead and keep saying you are #Winning.’ 

As news of the shooting spread, Gab – which is beloved by users for its commitment not to censor them – separated itself from him. 

In a statement, the company said it had reported his profile to the FBI and deactivated it.

‘Shortly after the attack, Gab was alerted to a user profile of the alleged Tree of Life Synagogue shooter. 

‘The account was verified and matched the name of the alleged shooter’s name, which was mentioned on police scanners. 

‘This person also had accounts on other social networks.

‘Gab took swift and proactive action to contact law enforcement immediately. We first backed up all user data from the account and then proceeded to suspend the account.

‘We then contacted the FBI and made them aware of this account and the user data in our possession. 

‘We are ready and willing to work with law enforcement to see to it that justice is served.’

In a tweet, it hit back at the idea that its free-speech stance was in any way to blame for the shooting, writing: ‘Words are not bullets. 

‘Social media posts have a body count of zero. 

‘The sole responsibility for today’s horrific actions lies with one person.

‘We will do everything in our power to work with law enforcement to see that justice is served.’

HIAS released a statement on Saturday afternoon to say it was devastated by the events of the day. 

‘There are no words to express how devastated we are by the events in Pittsburgh this morning. This loss is our loss, and our thoughts are with Tree of Life Congregation, our local partner Jewish Family and Community Services (JFCS) of Pittsburgh, the city of Pittsburgh and all those affected by this senseless act of violence. 

‘As we try to process this horrifying tragedy, we pray that the American Jewish community and the country can find healing,’ they said. 

‘If there was an armed guard inside the temple that would have been able to stop him, maybe there would have been nobody killed except from him. 

‘We can look at it two ways. But if they had somebody to protect people… isn’t it a shame that we even have to speak that way?

‘That we even have to think that way inside a temple… but certainly the results should have been better,’ he said. 

Asked if he thinks every place of worship should have armed security, Trump replied: ‘I hate to think of it that way. 

‘It’s certainly an option. This world, this is a world with a lot of problems and it has been for many years, many many years, and you could say for many centuries but certainly you want protection and they didn’t have protection. 

‘They had a maniac walk in and the didn’t have any protection and it’s so sad to see. So sad to see. 

‘It’s a very difficult thing for me to stand as president and watch. 

‘Before I ran for office, I watched instances like this and I’d say, “what a shame, what a shame.” It’s tougher when you’re the president of the United States and you have to watch this kind of thing happen. It’s so sad to see.’   

Former rabbi Chuck Diamond said on Saturday that he always feared there would be a shooting at the synagogue when he worked there 

The synagogue's former president Michael Eisenberg said he was working on ways to make it easier to escape so that people could flee in the event of a shooting

Former rabbi Chuck Diamond (left) said on Saturday that he always feared there would be a shooting at the synagogue when he worked there. The synagogue’s former president Michael Eisenberg (right) said he was working on ways to make it easier to escape so that people could flee in the event of a shooting 

Police rapid response team members at the scene of the shooting on Saturday. Some were engaged in a gun fight with the shooter before he was taken into custody

Police rapid response team members at the scene of the shooting on Saturday. Some were engaged in a gun fight with the shooter before he was taken into custody

Squirrel Hill residents return to their home arm in arm after going to the synagogue to see what had happened after the shooting on Saturday morning 

Squirrel Hill residents return to their home arm in arm after going to the synagogue to see what had happened after the shooting on Saturday morning 

An armed police officer at the scene of the shooting on Saturday after the suspect had been taken into custody 

An armed police officer at the scene of the shooting on Saturday after the suspect had been taken into custody 

Wendell Hissnich, Pittsburgh Director of Public Safety, fought back tears as he described the 'horrific' crime scene which he said was worse than some plane crashes he had investigated.

Bishop David Zubik of the Diocese of Pittsburgh went to the scene to condemn the violence

Wendell Hissnich, Pittsburgh Director of Public Safety, (left) fought back tears as he described the ‘horrific’ crime scene which he said was worse than some plane crashes he had investigated. Right, Bishop David Zubik of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh went to the scene to condemn the violence

TRUMP CALLS SHOOTING ‘A SHAME’, SAYS SYNAGOGUE SHOULD HAVE HAD SECURITY GUARD AND CALLS FOR QUICK DEATH PENALTY FOR SHOOTER THEN RAMPS UP HIS CRITICISM OF ‘ACT OF TWISTED MALICE AND EVIL’

President Trump abhorred the shooting as he spoke before the FFA on Saturday 

President Trump abhorred the shooting as he spoke before the FFA on Saturday 

President Trump described the shooting as a ‘shame’ on Saturday as he boarded Air Force One to fly to Indiana and called for the shooter to face the death penalty quickly, without being bogged down by legal delays. 

After tweeting that the devastation was worse than had been reported, Trump suggested that the shooting could have been prevented if the Tree of Life Congregation had hired its own security. 

Speaking to reporters at Joint Base Andrews, he said: ‘If there was an armed guard inside the temple that would have been able to stop him, maybe there would have been nobody killed except from him. 

‘We can look at it two ways. But if they had somebody to protect people… isn’t it a shame that we even have to speak that way? ‘That we even have to think that way inside a temple… but certainly the results should have been better,’ he said. 

Asked if he thinks every place of worship should have armed security, Trump replied: ‘I hate to think of it that way. 

‘It’s certainly an option. This world, this is a world with a lot of problems and it has been for many years, many many years, and you could say for many centuries but certainly you want protection and they didn’t have protection. 

‘They had a maniac walk in and the didn’t have any protection and it’s so sad to see. So sad to see. 

‘It’s a very difficult thing for me to stand as president and watch. Before I ran for office, I watched instances like this and I’d say, “what a shame, what a shame.” It’s tougher when you’re the president of the United States and you have to watch this kind of thing happen. It’s so sad to see.’ 

He said gun laws had ‘little to do with it’ when questioned. 

He called for swift action for the shooter and all mass shooters who he said should be given the death penalty soon after the events. 

‘You look at the violence all over the world. It comes back in the form of a mad man, a wacko. We should stiffen up our laws in terms of the death penalty, they shouldn’t have to wait years and years.

‘I think they should stiffen up laws and bring the death penalty in to vogue,’ he said. 

By the time he had arrived in Indianapolis to give his speech to the Future Farmers of America, his rhetoric had become more stern. 

He abhorred what he called the ‘twisted malice’ and ‘wicked’ and ‘evil’ shooting, calling for all Americans to unite against antisemitism and not tolerate prejudice of any kind. 

‘This wicked act of mass murder is pure evil, hard to believe and frankly something that is unimaginable. Our nation and the world are shocked and stunned by the grief. This was an antisemitic act. you wouldn’t think this would be possible in this day and age but we just don’t seem to learn from the past.

‘Our minds cannot comprehend the cruel hate and the twisted malice that could cause a person to unleash such terrible violence during a baby naming ceremony. This was a baby naming ceremony at a sacred house of worship on the holy day of Sabbath.

‘Antisemitism and the widespread persecution of Jews represents one of the ugliest and darkest human features of human history the vile hatred and poison of antisemitism must be condemned anywhere and everywhere it appears there must be no tolerance of antisemitism in America or for any form of religious hatred or prejudice,’ he said. 

 

He praised the ‘outstanding’ law enforcement and said the gunman was able to get access when he shouldn’t have been because of the lack of security.

‘You look at the violence all over the world. It comes back in the form of a mad man, a wacko. We should stiffen up our laws in terms of the death penalty, they shouldn’t have to wait years and years.

‘I think they should stiffen up laws and bring the death penalty in to vogue,’ he said. 

Vice President Mike Pence later said: ‘What happened in Pittsburgh today was not just criminal, it was evil. 

‘An attack on innocent Americans and an assault on our freedom of religion. 

‘There is no place in America for violence or antisemitism and this evil must end.’ 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also released a statement, saying: ‘Today’s tragic shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh was a cowardly act, driven by hate.

‘The Senate stands with all Americans to condemn the evil of bigotry in all its forms.’

‘As the Pittsburgh community mourns, our prayers are with the victims and their families, and our sincere gratitude is with the first responders who work to project and save lives every day.’ 

Former President Barack Obama tweeted on Saturday: ‘We grieve for the Americans murdered in Pittsburgh. 

‘All of us have to fight the rise of anti-Semitism and hateful rhetoric against those who look, love, or pray differently. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also released a statement, saying: 'Today's tragic shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh was a cowardly act, driven by hate'

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also released a statement, saying: ‘Today’s tragic shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh was a cowardly act, driven by hate’

Former President Barack Obama tweeted on Saturday: 'We grieve for the Americans murdered in Pittsburgh'

Former President Barack Obama tweeted on Saturday: ‘We grieve for the Americans murdered in Pittsburgh’

‘And we have to stop making it so easy for those who want to harm the innocent to get their hands on a gun.’ 

There was no security at the Tree of Life on Saturday, with former synagogue leaders describing how it operates an open-door policy for worshipers and only puts security on for significant holy days despite fears among community leaders that such a shooting was on the horizon. 

‘On a day today the door is open you can walk in an out. Like most religious institutions, we have an open door,’ the synagogue’s former president, Michael Eisenberg, told CBS Pittsburgh.

He added that security had been a ‘major’ concern for him in the past and that he was working with the government to improve escape routes and emergency procedures.  

‘It was a major concern for me, for us. 

‘We were working with the DHS to evaluate exit routes, I just spoke to our maintenance person who was able to get out.  

The synagogue is located in Squirrel Hill which is also home to Carnegie Mellon University and Chatham University. It is a hub for the Jewish community in Pittsburgh 

The scene remained taped off on Saturday as the investigation into the shooting continued 

The scene remained taped off on Saturday as the investigation into the shooting continued 

ANTI-GUN RABBI WHO SURVIVED MASSACRE WROTE ABOUT ENDING VIOLENCE IN BLOG POST THREE MONTHS BEFORE SHOOTER OPENED FIRE ON HIS SERVICE

Rabbi Hazzan Jeffrey Myers, who was likely leading the Sabbath service, is pictured after escaping from the gunman on Saturday morning 

Rabbi Hazzan Jeffrey Myers, who was likely leading the Sabbath service, is pictured after escaping from the gunman on Saturday morning 

The rabbi who was likely leading the Sabbath service at the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday when a gunman opened fire wrote at length about gun violence and his desire for it to end three months ago. 

In a blog post in July, Rabbi Hazzan Jeffrey Myers wrote a blog post for the synagogue’s website titled ‘We Deserve Better’. 

He said, in part: ‘Despite continuous calls for sensible gun control and mental health care, our elected leaders in Washington knew that it would fade away in time. 

‘Unless there is a dramatic turnaround in the mid-term elections, I fear that that the status quo will remain unchanged, and school shootings will resume.

‘I shouldn’t have to include in my daily morning prayers that God should watch over my wife and daughter, both teachers, and keep them safe. 

‘Where are our leaders?’ 

He also wrote about immigration – a trigger subject for the shooter who regularly complained about it on social media. 

‘Immigration advocates were wise in bringing the separation of parents and children to the courts, because we have seen legal decisions pushing our leaders to respond in a timely manner. What happens to the children whose parents were deported? 

‘There must be a better system, and I would have hoped that bright minds in Washington, D.C., could sit down and work out a solution that takes into account all of the concerns that have been raised. Alas, inaction once again,’ he wrote.

Rabbi Myers survived Saturday’s attack and was pictured walking out of the synagogue clutching his head in bewilderment and trauma.

It remains unclear if any one specific person was targeted or if it was a general attack on Judaism by antisemitic gunman Robert Bowers. 

‘We were working with the other synagogues on what to do if this happened,’ he said. 

He said of the building’s maintenance man, who witnessed Saturday’s shooting and escaped through one of the exit doors,: ‘He was shaken, he saw one of our congregants down, he knew, he was in the bathroom and he was able to get out of the building.’ 

A former rabbi said he was grateful that many of the congregants often arrived late for morning services and that he was grateful on this occasion. 

‘I thought about it all the time I have to tell you when I was there I always had the thought in the back of my had unfortunately in the world we live in,’ the former rabbi said. 

The area was put on lock down, with any residents living nearby told to lock their doors and not go outside.  Witnesses are still being interviewed by police at the scene.   

The shooting happened at the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, on Saturday morning (file image)

The shooting happened at the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, on Saturday morning (file image)

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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