America’s Jews are now having to think about the same security measures that churches have had to take on, now that the term “synagogue shooting” has been added to the sad list of church shootings in recent years.
You’ve seen the headlines. The issue is what happens next and where.
On Saturday, a shooter walked into Tree of Life, a synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood and by no means the largest synagogue in town. It’s unclear why the killer chose that place, but he left many dead and wounded in his wake and a nation — once again — wondering why we’re becoming a country where worshippers can be gunned down in their pews.
By Saturday night the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette had a lead story with five bylines:
Eleven people are dead and six more are wounded — including four police officers — after a mass shooting at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood Saturday morning.
The shooter, who officials said had an assault-style rifle and three handguns, is in custody, Pittsburgh police report. Officials have confirmed he is Robert Bowers, 46, of Baldwin Borough. He is in Allegheny General Hospital in fair condition with multiple gunshot wounds, officials said.
Gunfire erupted shortly before 10 a.m. as a baby-naming ceremony was getting underway, officials confirmed.
At a news conference Saturday afternoon, Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said officers were dispatched at 9:55 a.m. He confirmed that there were 11 fatalities, and six injuries, including four police officers. No children were injured, he said. Gov. Tom Wolf confirmed that the incident was being investigated as a hate crime.
The Anti-Defamation League said it believed it was the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the U.S. history.
There’s a lot of other articles on the PG’s site, as it appears the newspaper threw every available reporter it could at the story. The day closed with 3,000 people attending a vigil for the dead and wounded at the intersection of Murray and Forbes avenues.
By Sunday, news was out about Gab.com, a chat site the shooter had loaded with anti-Semitic comments.