October 27, 2018 Pittsburgh Police responded to an active shooter situation Saturday morning at the <a href=”https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2018/10/27/heavy-police-presence-near-synagogue-in-squirrel-hill/”>Tree of Life Congregation synagogue</a> in Squirrel Hill. At least eight people were killed and several others injured in the attack. Three police officers were shot in exchanged gun fire with a suspected shooter before he was taken into custody.
The suspect has been identified as Robert Bowers, a 46 year old resident of Pittsburgh. Witnesses say Bowers yelled “all Jews must die” as he entered the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue then opened fire ob the congregation.
The residential neighborhood of Squirrel Hill where Tree of Life Congregation synagogue is located is described as the hub of Pittsburgh’s Jewish community.
President Trump acknowledged the shooting via Twitter:
“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!”
Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell D. Hissrich said during a press conference that the FBI will be the lead agency. Hissrich said the shooting would be prosecuted as a hate crime because a Jewish synagogue was targeted.
Following the 2016 presidential election there has been an uptick in hate crimes across the country — including several incidents at places of worship. Many Americans, including lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have expressed concern over President Trump’s coarsening brand of political rhetoric. Trump condemned a series of attempted domestic terrorist attacks in recent days targeting high profile Democrats calling for unity. At least a dozen pipe bombs addressed to vocal critics of Trump, including former president Barack Obama and former vice president Joe Biden were intercepted by the FBI and U.S. Secret Service last week.
However, since then President Trump has repeatedly blamed the media and others for incivility and refuses to acknowledge his own inflammatory rhetoric.