What we know so far:
- 11 dead; 6 injured after a gunman stormed Tree of Life Synagogue at corner of Wilkens and Shady Avenues.
- Shooter was injured and cornered on third floor of synagogue
- Gunman preliminarily identified as Robert Bowers, 46 years old, white male.
- He reportedly shouted "all Jews must die" at police as he was being subdued.
- The suspect killed congregants in the main level who had gathered to observe the Sabbath then went downstairs
- In the basement, a second congregation had gathered. He shot them then fled to the third floor; There, Bowers exchanged gunfire with police and injured two police officers and two SWAT team members
- Bowers was eventually injured and surrendered to police by crawling to them before being taken to the hospital
- Bowers posted on the social network Gab an hour before the attack that he was 'going in.' He regularly spewed his hatred of Jews and of President Trump on the website
- Trump first called the shooting a 'shame' and said the synagogue should have had its own security
- According to the Anti-Defamation League, the attack was "likely the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States."
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Update (4:30pm): Commenting on the Saturday's shooting, Trump said that "what happened today is a horrible, horrible thing," after stepping off Air Force One in Indianapolis for an event. “It looks definitely like it’s an anti-Semitic crime. That is something you wouldn’t believe could still be going on," Trump said.
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Update (3:45pm): The FBI has now taken over the investigation into the shooting, which is being treated as a hate crime. According to the Anti-Defamation League, which tracks anti-Semitism in the U.S., the attack was "likely the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States."
"It is simply unconscionable for Jews to be targeted during worship on a Sabbath morning, and unthinkable that it would happen in the United States of America in this day and age," the group wrote.
"This is one of the most horrific crime scenes I've ever seen," Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich told reporters at an afternoon press conference.
Speaking in Las Vegas, Vice President Pence condemned the shooting saying, "There is no place in America for violence or anti-Semitism."
The shooting prompted New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) to direct officers to places of worship across New York City on Saturday, which he described as a precaution.
Earlier Saturday, the president told reporters before heading to Indiana that the suspect in the synagogue shooting, whom he described as a "madman," should receive the death penalty.
"We should stiffen up our laws in terms of the death penalty," Trump said. "When people do this they should get the death penalty … they should very much bring the death penalty into vogue."
Trump also suggested that the outcome of the shooting could have been prevented if armed guards were present at the synagogue on Saturday: “This is a case where if they had an armed guard inside they would have been able to stop him immediately," he said.
When asked if all places of prayer should have guards, Trump said, “I hate to think of it that way … it’s certainly an option, this is a world with a lot of problems."
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Update (2:30 pm ET): Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One that he is considering cancelling an Illinois rally planned for tonight, and that there will be a "different tone" after Pittsburgh shooting.
- *TRUMP SAYS HE'S CONSIDERING CANCELING ILLINOIS CAMPAIGN EVENT
- *PRESIDENT TRUMP SPEAKS TO REPORTERS ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE
- *TRUMP SAYS WILL BE A DIFFERENT TONE AFTER PITTSBURGH SHOOTING
- *TRUMP SAYS LOOKS LIKE PITTSBURGH WAS ANTISEMITIC CRIME
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Update (1:30 pm ET): Gab.com has issued a full statement confirming the alleged attacker's presence on their 'uncensored' alternative social media site:
Gab.com’s policy on terrorism and violence have always been very clear: we a have zero tolerance policy for it. Gab unequivocally disavows and condemns all acts of terrorism and violence. This has always been our policy. We are saddened and disgusted by the news of violence in Pittsburgh and are keeping the families and friends of all victims in our thoughts and prayers.
We refuse to be defined by the media’s narratives about Gab and our community. Gab’s mission is very simple: to defend free expression and individual liberty online for all people. Social media often brings out the best and the worst of humanity. From live streamed murders on Facebook, to threats of violence by bombing suspect Cesar Sayoc Jr. that went unaddressed by Twitter, and more. Criminals and criminal behavior exist on every social media platform.
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.
Our user guidelines state:
Threats and Terrorism:
Users are prohibited from calling for the acts of violence against others, promoting or engaging in self-harm, and/or acts of cruelty, threatening language or behaviour that clearly, directly and incontrovertibly infringes on the safety of another user or individual(s). We may also report the user(s) to local and/or federal law enforcement, as per the advice of our legal counsel.
Our privacy agreement states:
Information Disclosed for Our Protection and the Protection of Others.
We cooperate with government and law enforcement officials or private parties to enforce and comply with the law. We may disclose any information about you to government or law enforcement officials or private parties as we, in our sole discretion, believe necessary or appropriate: (i) to respond to claims, legal process (including subpoenas); (ii) to protect our property, rights and safety and the property, rights and safety of a third party or the public in general; and (iii) to stop any activity that we consider illegal or legally actionable activity.
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Update (1 pm ET): Live network coverage of Saturday's shooting has concluded, but updates about the situation are still trickling in as police around the country react to the incident. In New York City, the NYPD is deploying additional officers to Jewish centers and synagogues throughout the city following an active shooter situation at a Pittsburgh synagogue.
Police said there are "multiple casualties" after reports of an active shooter at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh Saturday morning. A suspect is now in custody. Heavy weapons teams, including the officers from the Critical Response Command and the Strategic Response Team, will patrol Jewish houses of worship across the city. The NYPD noted that there is no current threat, according to ABC.
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Update (12:15 pm ET): While police have yet to confirm the identity of the suspect, who was identified at the scene as 46-year-old Robert Bowers, images of a suspected social media account that may belong to Bowers have surfaced, and as one might imagine, they are replete with anti-semitic rhetoric.
While police haven't confirmed the veracity of the account, the likelihood of there being two 46-year-old anti-semites from Pittsburgh named Robert Bowers seems like...a stretch.
Shortly before the incident began, a man believed to be the shooter posted "screw your optics, I'm going in" on his gab account, suggesting that he needed to act before a Jewish organization brought in more refugees...
...Notably, the man said he didn't vote for President Trump...
...and that he never owned a MAGA hat...
...the account-holder posted pictures of his guns...
...He also accused Trump of being a "globalist"...
...Oddly, his gab account was last archived 14 hours ago...
...which suggests whoever archived it wanted people to see the posts...
...As one twitter user pointed out, the shooter is a nazi terrorist who hated Trump...
Posts from the suspected Pittsburgh shooter Robert Bowers. He hated Trump and thought Trump was controlled by Jews. This monster is an unhinged anti-Semitic terrorist. pic.twitter.com/sjb2k6ucwb— Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) October 27, 2018
After tweeting that the events in Pittsburgh were "far more devastating than originally thought"...
Events in Pittsburgh are far more devastating than originally thought. Spoke with Mayor and Governor to inform them that the Federal Government has been, and will be, with them all the way. I will speak to the media shortly and make further statement at Future Farmers of America.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 27, 2018
...President Trump answered questions from reporters around 12:45 pm. Here are a few headlines from his statement:
- *TRUMP SAYS FOLLOWING EVENTS IN PITTSBURGH VERY CLOSELY
- *TRUMP SAYS HATE IN U.S. IS A TERRIBLE THING, MUST BE ADDRESSED
- *TRUMP: COULD HAVE BEEN DIFFERENT WITH `PROTECTION' IN TEMPLE
- *TRUMP: WE NEED TO STIFFEN OUR LAWS IN TERMS OF DEATH PENALTIES
- *TRUMP: `THEY DIDN'T HAVE ANY PROTECTION' IN SYNAGOGUE
- *TRUMP SAYS HE'S `ALWAYS TALKING' TO NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION
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A few more updates...
- From @JuliaReinstein: Stephen Weiss was filling in for the rabbi today at Tree of Life. Stephen escaped the shooting and is now home safe. Zachary said there was a bris there today. "He was davening…and all of a sudden there was a loud boom," Zachary said. Zachary said his dad wasn't even supposed to be at the synagogue today - he was going on vacation, but cancelled due to illness, and filled in today for the rabbi who was out sick. "Fortunately he is home safe, and I gave him a big, big hug when he came home," he said.
- A little over 50% of Jewish population in Pittsburgh live in this Squirrel Hill area where synagogue shooting took place, according to Jeffrey Finkelstein, president and CEO of Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.There are 4 synagogue in the area.
- "We have reached out to Jewish community leaders and have directed officers to pay special attention to synagogues until further notice," Washington, D.C. police said.
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Update (11:35 am ET): Police have cleared the synagogue with a robot and are now seeking to clear it for bombs with a canine.
CNN reported that the synagogue has, in the past, been targeted with anti-semitic graffiti like swastikas. According to scanner reports, three officers were wounded in a gun-battle with the suspect. The FBI has been notified and Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the White House is "continuing to monitor" the situation.
NBC News reported that a bris ceremony was taking place when the shooter barged in. Shabbat services had been scheduled for later that morning. While earlier scanner reports said as many as 11 were dead on arrival, multiple media reports say at least 8 people have died. The Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh said there were between 80 and 100 people inside during the shooting.
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Update (11:15 am ET): Police have the shooter in handcuffs and are in the process of clearing the synagogue. According to scanner reports, at least 11 people have been tagged "dead on arrival."
Here's the scene from a few blocks away:
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Update (11:11 am ET): The suspect has reportedly surrendered according to police scanner reports. According to police scanner reports, he was armed with a Glock pistol and an AR-15.
At least four people have died and a cop has been shot in the wrist. The suspect is crawling out of the building and communicating with the SWAT team.
According to police, the suspect's name is Robert Bower (though this hasn't been confirmed yet by police). He is 46 years old. He reportedly shouted "all Jews must die" at police after being subdued. The suspect was officially in cuffs as of 11:13 am ET. He was described as wearing blue jeans and a green jacket.
Watching the events unfolding in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Law enforcement on the scene. People in Squirrel Hill area should remain sheltered. Looks like multiple fatalities. Beware of active shooter. God Bless All!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 27, 2018
More bodies are reportedly being brought out. Police have also found a "military style" package on the first floor.
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With the country still on edge from the flurry of more than a dozen attempted mail bombings of prominent Democratic political figures this past week, as many as eight people have been killed after a gunman opened fire during Shabbat services at a synagogue in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood. The shooter, who is armed with an AK-47, has taken members of the congregation hostage, according to Pittsburgh's CBS affiliate station.
Officers were forced to hide behind their cars after arriving at Tree of Life Congregation, which is located on the corner of Wilkens and Shady Avenues, as the gunman opened fire on them. At least 4 have been confirmed dead, and scanner reports suggest the total could already be seven or eight. According to one report, the gunman is holed up on the third floor of the synagogue and is engaged in a gun battle with members of the SWAT team.
As one YouTuber who put the scanner feed online noted, "we're listening to a terrorist attack in real time."
Here are some excerpts from the scanner courtesy of RT:
Details of dramatic police standoff with the shooter are emerging via police radio broadcast on the Broadcastify website. An officer at the scene has told his colleagues over the police radio that there are "four down in the atrium." Another one said "I've got one alive."
"We need armor," one police officer is heard saying, while another one requested to "open up the back for rescue."
Saturday is Shabbat in the Jewish faith, and the shooting reportedly took place during a crowded prayer service. According to one local reporter, Tree of Life has one of the largest congregations in the city.
Oh no. No no no. This is Saturday, Shabbat, the busiest day of the week at a synagogue. Tree of Life is one of the most congregated in Pittsburgh. Please no. https://t.co/q0UgkNkLTs— Matt Maisel (@Matt_Maisel) October 27, 2018
According to the Daily Mirror, the area around the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue and the area surrounding it have been sealed off.
BREAKING: HEAVY POLICE ACTIVITY AT TREE OF LIFE SYNAGOGUE IN SQUIRREL HILL pic.twitter.com/nHIPehF3ar— Chris Lovingood WTAE (@CLovingoodWTAE) October 27, 2018
One purported witness said she saw "15+" police cars speeding toward the synagogue.
There was just a man who opened fire in the synagogue down the street from my job. We’ve seen 15+ police cars drive by.— vote.org | 11-6-18 (@ortegolauren) October 27, 2018
Locals have been asked to avoid the area. Nearby Carnegie Mellon University is reportedly on lockdown.
ALERT: There is an active shooter in the area of WILKINS and Shady. Avoid the area. More info will be released when it is available.— Pgh Public Safety (@PghPublicSafety) October 27, 2018