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Suspect charged in Pittsburgh synagogue shooting that left 11 dead

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Posted at 11:12 AM, Oct 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-28 07:05:55-04

PITTSBURGH (RNN) - Eleven people are dead and multiple people were injured after a gunman opened fire in a synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood in Pittsburgh Saturday.

Police Chief Scott Schubert said six other people were injured in the gunfire, including four police officers. Two of the officers were shot in the initial confrontation with the gunman and two SWAT officers were wounded in a later confrontation.

A bearded, heavy-set white man surrendered to police. The suspect was identified as Robert Bowers, 46, of Pittsburgh. He faces 29 charges, including using a firearm to commit murder, according to the Associated Press.

He was taken to the hospital, according to authorities.

Wendell Hissrich, director of Pittsburgh Public Safety, said there is no evidence of a further threat to the community. He said the incident is now a federal case being led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“It’s a very horrific crime scene,” he said almost in tears.

The suspect reportedly made anti-Semitic remarks as he was taken into custody.

The gunman opened fire in the Tree of Life Synagogue in the historic Jewish neighborhood.

Three congregations practice in the Tree of Life building - Tree of Life, New Light and Dor Hadash. All three congregations were holding services Saturday morning.

“If they had some kind of protection inside the temple, maybe it would have been different," said President Donald Trump, who also praised the response of law enforcement at the scene.

“When people do this, they should get the death penalty. They shouldn’t have to wait years and years. Of course the lawyers will get involved ... anyone who does this to innocent people who are in temple or church, they should really suffer the ultimate price. I’ve felt that way for a long time. Some people disagree with me, but I can’t imagine why," he said.

Trump wouldn’t comment on changing gun laws.

Michael Eisenberg, the immediate past president of the synagogue, told local media that they never had any threats, but they were concerned about security, and called in Homeland Security to examine their building.

“We were working with the other synagogues if something horrific like this happened,” he told KDKA.

“But our security is no one has ever tried. Like most religious communities, we have an open door,” Eisenberg said.

Police are currently checking the building for any potential explosives the gunman left behind, and the Mass Causality Command Center is on scene.

Shabbat morning services were scheduled for 9:45 a.m. Saturday, according to the synagogue’s website. The calls came into 911 about 10:20 a.m.

Witnesses tell the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the gunfire sounded like an automatic weapon.

Jeff Finkelstein, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh said he guessed there would be at least 50 people at the church on a Saturday morning.

“My heart goes out to all these families,” he said. “This should not be happening period.”

Students at Carnegie Mellon University reportedly received texts telling them to stay inside.

Copyright 2018 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.


PITTSBURGH (RNN) - Police are responding to an active shooter situation near Squirrel Hill near Shady and Wilkins avenues in Pittsburgh.

The incident occurred near the Tree of Life Synagogue. CNN reported the area is near a synagogue a predominantly Jewish neighborhood.

Police said there multiple casualties and are urging people to lock their doors and stay in their homes.

CNN affiliate KDKA said a white male is in custody.

Shabbat morning services were scheduled for 9:45 a.m. Saturday, according to the synagogue’s website.

Pittsburgh Public Safety reported an incident at 10:20 a.m. Saturday.

It is unclear at this time if a shooter or shooters have been found.

Local media reported a large police presence in the area.

Carnegie Mellon University was reportedly on lockdown, with students receiving texts telling them to stay inside.

Copyright 2018 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.