Suspect Identified After 11 Shot Dead in Synagogue

Robert Bowers allegedly walked into the Tree of Life Synagogue and opened fire
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 27, 2018 10:33 AM CDT
Updated Oct 27, 2018 1:14 PM CDT
8 Shot Dead in Synagogue; Gunfight Breaks Out
A SWAT team arrives at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pa. where a shooter opened fire and injured multiple people, Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018.   (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Police have arrested a white 48-year-old male after 11 people were killed and six injured Saturday during a baby-naming ceremony at a Pittsburgh synagogue, the AP and CBS Pittsburgh report. Identified as Robert Bowers, 46, the alleged shooter is said to have entered the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill and yelled "All Jews must die." The shooting occurred in a third-floor classroom where Saturday's class had been canceled, a former Tree of Life president tells the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. A man attending weekly Shabbat services says he heard repeating fire like that of an automatic weapon. Bowers reportedly shot at arriving police, who used their vehicles as shields amid the gunfire; four officers suffered non-life-threatening injuries. Bowers, described as heavy-set and bearded, was also wounded.

A social media profile under the name Robert Bowers is full of anti-Semitic posts including one right before the shooting, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. "I can't sit by and watch my people get slaughtered," the post reads. "Screw your optics, I'm going in." All three congregations at the conservative synagogue—Tree of Life, Dor Hadash, and New Light—were having services when the shooting erupted. President Trump said Saturday that "it's a terrible, terrible thing what's going on with hate in our country, frankly, and all over the world," but said the shooting had "little" relation to gun laws: "If they had protection inside, the results would have been far better." A victims' center with grief counselors has been set up for survivors. The FBI is leading the investigation, which will be prosecuted as a hate crime, a Pittsburgh official tells CNN. (Read more shooting stories.)

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