“In Pittsburgh, we’re pragmatic. We find solutions to problems. We will not try to rationalize your irrational behavior...we will work to eradicate it.”
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and several public safety officials addressed the media Sunday morning following yesterday’s deadly shooting at a synagogue in Squirrel Hill. He emphasized the city’s resiliency, saying it would not tolerate hatred. The mass shooting left 11 dead and six injured.
Brady: the fact that this attack took place in a place of worship makes it all the more heinous
— An-Li Herring (@anliherring) October 28, 2018
The victims’ names were released, which included a pair of brothers and a husband and wife. Their ages ranged from 54 to 97.
Few details about the alleged shooter — who has been identified as Robert Bowers — were released.
Pittsburgh FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert Jones said he didn’t know why Bowers chose this particular synagogue, but that he moved through the building where three congregations were worshiping. Bowers is being charged with 29 separate federal crimes, including 11 counts of Obstruction of Exercise of Religious Belief Resulting in Death. The incident is being investigated as a federal hate crime, and authorities say they’re looking into Bowers’ social media accounts.
Jeffrey Finkelstein, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, told the crowded room he’d seen this scenario on television many times, but never thought he’d be a part of it.
The mass shooting is being treated as a “hate crime,” not currently as an “act of domestic terrorism.” There’s a line, but it’s quite nuanced. Terrorism would mean there’s an attempt to propagate a certain ideaology through violence.
— Virginia AlvinoYoung (@VirginiaAlvino) October 28, 2018
“We’ll get past this and be a strong Jewish community like we’ve always been,” Finkelstein said.
Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendel Hissrich said the streets near the Tree of Life Congregation, Wilkins and Shady Avenues, will remain closed for at least a week while officials investigate. Extra police patrols will be added to “sensitive locations” around the city, he said, including this evening’s scheduled interfaith gathering at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum in Oakland at 5 p.m.
“If you see a first responder, go up to them and say ‘thank you’...a word of thanks will go a long way,” Hissrich said.
Thousands gathered Saturday evening in Squirrel Hill for a memorial ceremony and vigil. Squirrel Hill is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the state and the hub of the city's Jewish community.