Pittsburghers Gather For Saturday Evening Vigil Following Squirrel Hill Shooting

Oct 27, 2018

Thousands of people jammed into the corner of Murray and Forbes in Squirrel Hill amid a light rain for a vigil Saturday evening for the victims of a shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue earlier in the day. The gathering included prayers and singing in memory of those killed and wounded.

Eleven people were killed and six others injured during a shooting earlier in the day at the Tree of Life synagogue on Wilkins Avenue. Authorities have the alleged shooter, Robert Bowers, in custody. Scott Brady, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, said his office could file charges as quickly as tonight.

Speakers said teens were largely responsible for the vigil, which brought many into the damp cold clutching coats and candles as prayers and speeches filled the air. A "vote, vote, vote" chant broke out during the emotional gathering where some derided the nation's political climate.

One speaker said the Jewish community as a whole declined to officially participate on the Sabbath out of respect for victims and their families. Other attendees blamed the shooting on the nation's political climate and said they took little solace in a planned visit by President Donald Trump, who offered his condolences at a planned event Saturday afternoon.

Authorities say the incident is being investigated as a federal hate crime.

State Rep. Dan Frankel, who represents the district that includes the synagogue, was speaking at a house party about a block away when the shooting occurred. The Democrat said other attendees heard the gunfire.

"We'll be dealing with this for months and years," Frankel said. "It leaves an indelible mark."

Frankel called the area the heart of Pittsburgh's Jewish community, estimating about 20 synagogues are located with a couple miles of the vigil site.

The Associated Press contributed to this report, as did 90.5 WESA reporters Sarah Schneider, Amy Sisk, Megan Harris and Patrick Doyle.