In a shocking incident, a heavily armed gunman yelling, “All Jews must die” opened rounds of fire during a baby-naming ceremony at a synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday, killing 11 people and injuring six including four police officers, before he was arrested. All those killed were adults.
The gunman who has been identified as Robert Bowers, a Pittsburgh resident, entered the synagogue with an AR-15-style assault rifle and three handguns. He surrendered and was taken into custody after a shootout with a SWAT team. He was transported to a hospital with unspecified injuries.
Bowers had reportedly posted anti-Semitic slurs on social media before the shooting. However, he had no past criminal record.
“I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in,” the man wrote in his final social media post hours before the attack.
Federal prosecutors charged him with 29 criminal counts including 11 counts of obstructing exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death, 11 counts of using firearms to commit murder, four counts of obstructing officers and wounding them, and three of use and discharge of firearms.
“The actions of Robert Bowers represent the worst of humanity. We are dedicating the entire resources of my office to this federal hate crime investigation and prosecution,” Scott Brady, US attorney for western Pennsylvania, told reporters.
President Trump condemned the killings, calling out the attack as a hate crime.
“It’s a terrible, terrible thing what’s going on with hate in our country,” Trump told reporters. “And something has to be done.”
“The vile hate-filled poison of anti-Semitism must be condemned and confronted everywhere and anywhere it appears,” the president added.
Trump also suggested the tragedy might have been prevented if there had been an armed guard at the synagogue. He said that will travel to Pittsburgh to meet the victims, however, he offered no details as to when he will be making the trip.