President Trump and Melania Trump made a controversial visit to Pittsburgh on Tuesday to pay their respects to the 11 people killed in Saturday's synagogue mass shooting. The visit was opposed by local officials, including Democratic Mayor Bill Peduto, but not by Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, who led them inside the Tree of Life synagogue, the BBC reports. Tens of thousands of people signed a petition opposing the presidential visit, blaming his rhetoric for violence carried out by white nationalists. As Trump arrived in the city, thousands of protesters gathered for two large rallies that eventually merged. Police stopped the protesters about half a block from the synagogue while Trump was there, but they turned their backs and knelt as his motorcade left the area, CBS Pittsburgh reports.
The president and first lady spent a total of 18 minutes inside the synagogue before moving along a row of 11 wooden Stars of David outside, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. Trump placed a stone at each one and the first lady left a white rose. The couple—accompanied by Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner—then visited UPMC Presbyterian, where the president spoke to victims including an injured police officer. "The president kept a solemn tone and was gracious," says Dr. Steven Shapiro, the hospital's chief medical officer. "He was interested in hearing the patients' stories and meeting the doctors and caregivers." Democratic and Republican congressional leaders declined an invitation to join Trump in Pittsburgh, and Peduto and other top city officials did not meet him. (Muslim groups have raised more than $100,000 for victims.)