11 Killed in Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting; Gunman in 'Anti-Semitic' Attack Identified

Police responded after a gunman opened fire Saturday morning at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018. | (Screengrab: WSJ video)

A gunman who opened fire at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh early Saturday morning killing at least 11 people has been identified as 46-year-old Robert Bowers.

Bowers, who carried an assault-style rifle and multiple pistols into the synagogue, was reported to have said he "wanted to kill Jews." FBI agents and other law enforcement said at a 4 p.m. ET news conference Saturday (watch here) that they could not confirm if the gunman made that statement. And FBI agent also could not confirm Bowers age, but did confirm that he is a resident of Pittsburgh.

Law enforcement said that with Bowers in custody "the threat [to the synagogue and Jewish community around Pittsburgh] has been eliminated." 

No children were among the deceased, Dr. Don Yealy, a professor of emergency medicine at UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh, added Saturday afternoon. The suspect is in custody and was transported to a hospital for treatment of multiple gunshot wounds and is in fair condition.

Four police officers and six others were injured in the attack, Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said at a news conference earlier in the day. 

Yealy said the gunshot victims were transported to one of three area hospitals. The patients include a 61-year-old woman, and a 70-year-old man who is in critical condition after being shot in the torso, affecting organs in his abdomen, and is undergoing a second operation. 

"It's a horrific crime scene, one of the worst I've seen," Hissrich told reporters about the aftermath he witnessed inside the synagogue that's located in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

President Trump described the mass shooting as an "anti-Semitic act" and "pure evil." 

"You wouldn't think this would be possible in this day and age, but we just don't seem to learn from the past," Trump said at a Future Farmers of America rally in Murphysboro, Illinois, Saturday afternoon. He added that the "vile, hate-filled poison of anti-Semitism" must be rejected.

Trump noted that the shooting took place during a baby-naming ceremony and bris during Shabbat services. He added that the persecution of Jews is "one of the ugliest and darkest features of human history" and said there should not be any room for anti-Semitism or "any form of religious or racial hatred or prejudice" in the U.S.

The shooting is being investigated as a hate crime led by the FBI. Trump said federal officials would conduct a "full and thorough" investigation.

In response to the mass shooting, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has directed New York State Police to "increase patrols around Jewish centers and other houses of worship across the state."

Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter who converted to Orthodox Judaism in 2009 to marry her husband Jared Kushner, said in a message on Twitter Saturday: "America is stronger than the acts of a depraved bigot and anti-Semite. All good Americans stand with the Jewish people to oppose acts of terror & share the horror, disgust & outrage over the massacre in Pittsburgh. We must unite against hatred & evil. God bless those affected."

The Prime Minister if Israel posted a video response to the shooting, saying: "I was heartbroken and appalled by the murderous attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue today. The entire people of Israel grieve with the families of the dead. We stand together with the Jewish community of Pittsburgh; we stand together with the American people in the face of this horrendous anti-Semitic brutality."

Michael Eisenberg, the past president of the synagogue, told reporters on Saturday that the congregation has "never had any threats." 

"On a day like today the door is open. It's a religious service, you can walk in-and-out. Only on the high holidays is there a police presence at the entrance," Eisenberg added in a WSJ report

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt said in a statement on Saturday that the shooting is the "deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States."

The FBI and law enforcement will hold their next news conference at 9 a.m. ET on Sunday. 

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