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Still Shaken, Neighbors And Community Members Pay Their Respects At Squirrel Hill Synagogue

Liz Reid
90.5 WESA
Annie Menzel and John Charney walk their dog, Casey, along Shady Ave. Police have blocked off the area surrounding Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill.

Under a gray sky, neighbors, community members and mourners visited the site of Saturday’s deadly shooting in Squirrel Hill Sunday morning. Authorities say 11 people were killed when a lone gunman opened fire in the basement of Tree of Life synagogue.

Crime scene and barricades block off the intersection of Shady Avenue and Wilkins Avenue, where the synagogue is located. An officer said that was to maintain security and keep track of who is coming and going. For the most part, only police and FBI are permitted to approach the building. However, mourners are being escorted across the police line to leave flowers and other tokens and to pay their respects.

Credit Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA
90.5 WESA
Luke Racek, Jeremy Buisseger, Rebecca Tischerman, Maia Taft and Scott Majesky came to pay their respects Sunday morning at Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill.

John Charney and Annie Menzel live nearby; they were walking their dog Casey on Shady Avenue, as they do most days.

“We normally walk past the synagogue on a regular basis, every other day or so. It’s just appalling to know that two blocks away from our home, this occurs,” Charney said.

Menzel said their next-door neighbor was en route to the synagogue when he heard shots ring out. She said the neighbor was sent away by police.

“We’re so thankful that he was okay,” Menzel said.

Rebecca Tischerman and Maia Taft came with flowers.

“It hits very close to home,” Taft said. “It’s weird being that I went to a conservative synagogue for high holidays, and that this could happen anywhere at any time.”

Taft does not typically attend services at Tree of Life, but said she has friends who worship at the synagogue regularly.

“It doesn’t matter if you know [the victims] or not,” she said. “They mattered and it’s important that we respect their memories.”

Tischerman said she had been to the synagogue many times for Bar and Bat Mitzvahs and other celebrations.

“It’s hard to imagine that the same place where joyous occasions occurred had something so horrific happen yesterday.”