11 Killed, 6 Injured After Shooter Opens Fire at Pittsburgh Synagogue

A shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh has resulted in multiple deaths and six injuries

Eleven people were killed and six were injured when a shooter opened fire at a synagogue in Pittsburgh during a Saturday morning service, officials announced.

Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich announced at a press conference that authorities received a call about an active shooter at 9:54 a.m. The shooting took place at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill section of the city and no children were killed, officials announced.

Four of the injured were officers who responded, Hissirch said. Pittsburgh police chief Scott Schubert said all four were in stable condition, adding, “We can not forget the victims who lost their lives.”

President Donald Trump condemned the shooting as an act of anti-Semitism. It will be prosecuted as a hate crime and the FBI will be leading the investigation, the public safety department announced.

A law enforcement official confirms to PEOPLE the suspect is Robert Bowers, a Pittsburgh resident whose age authorities have not released. The official says investigators are looking at anti-Semitic social media posts that might belong to the suspect.

Police sources told KDKA the shooter yelled, “All Jews must die” after entering the synagogue during the Saturday morning Shabbat service.

The suspect was taken into custody after surrendering to police, according to the Associated Press. Erika Strassberger, the city councilwoman who represents the area, said the suspect was barricaded by police in the building prior to surrendering and that he was taken to the hospital, the New York Times reports.

Authorities said he is in fair condition with multiple gunshot wounds.

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Bob Jones, the FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge, said, “This is the most horrific crime scene I have seen in 22 years at the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Members of the Tree of Life Synagogue — a place of worship — were brutally murdered by a gunman simply because of their faith.”

Jones said authorities believe the suspect acted alone and they believed he used an assault rifle in the rampage. He said the suspects had three handguns on him.

He said the suspect spent about 20 minutes inside the synagogue and was leaving when an officer engaged him. That officer was subsequently wounded, after which the suspect went back inside the synagogue to hide from SWAT officers, Jones said.

The six injured victims were transferred to area hospitals. One of them, a 70-year-old man who suffered gunshot wounds to the torso involving major organs, was in critical condition as of Saturday afternoon.

‘We’re Still in Shock’

Rabbi Alvin Berkun, who was not present for the shooting, told ABC News that the Jewish neighborhood where the synagogue is located is usually very safe, and he was “stunned” about the violence that had taken place.

“There’s absolutely no crime, it’s an amazing neighborhood, it’s hard to believe it’s a city neighborhood,” he said. “It’s dominated by the Jewish community center four blocks away, it’s dominated by kosher bakeries, all kinds of Jewish gift shops, bookshops, a number of synagogues.

Crystal Uvalle, 30, who lives nearby and attended bar and bat mitzvahs at the synagogue in her childhood, tells PEOPLE she heard sirens and got an alert on her phone from her employer, the University of Pittsburgh.

“We’re still in shock,” she said. “You always knew it was going to happen. Last week, I was thinking, ‘I wonder when this will actually strike us?’ It’s just sad that it did.”

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Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf issued a statement saying, “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.”

Local sports teams the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pirates and Penguins issued statements mourning the tragedy.

The New York Police Department and the Los Angeles Police Department announced they will send officers to protect local synagogues.

Anyone seeking victim services is asked to contact 2-1-1 for information and referrals. Anyone outside of the area may call 1-888-553-3778.

Impacted families are being directed to the Jewish Community Center, 5738 Forbes Avenue. (Previously information directed families to Chatham University.)

Anyone having tips related to this incident is asked to contact the FBI at 412.432.4400.


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