Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting is ‘Deadliest anti-Semitic Attack in U.S.’

A driving licence picture of Robert Bowers (AFP)
A driving licence picture of Robert Bowers (AFP)

A gunman shouting “all Jews must die” burst into a Pittsburgh synagogue during a circumcision ceremony on Saturday, shooting dead 11 people.

Robert Bowers, 46, wielding an arsenal that included a semi-automatic rifle and three handguns, also left six others wounded, including four police officers, during the 20 minute attack.

The shooting happened at the Tree of Life Congregation in a leafy suburb in the heart of its Jewish community in Pennsylvania.

About 100 people were in the synagogue at the time. It was not known if the baby being circumcised, during a ceremony known as a bris, was harmed.

Bowers, who was in fair condition at a hospital after being shot several times by police, was charged late on Saturday with 29 federal counts, including hate crimes and weapons offences.

The suspect, who had no apparent criminal record, had left a trail of vile white supremacist comments and anti-Semitic abuse on social media, including sharing posts denying the Holocaust.

An hour before the attack he wrote on the Gab social media forum that Jewish “invaders” were “killing our people”.

He wrote: “I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”

Police officers describing the scene over a scanner said the gunman gave himself up after being injured. “All these Jews have to die,” he said again as he crawled towards them.

President Donald Trump was quick to insist that tougher gun laws would have made little difference but the latest attack will also fuel fears that religious and race hate is on the rise during a fraught period of divisive politics.

Mr Trump said he would travel to Pittsburgh in the wake of the shooting.

“This evil anti-Semitic attack is an assault on all of us,” Mr Trump told supporters at an election rally in Illinois where he began by addressing the attack at length – drawing loud cheers as he vowed to fully enforce the death penalty for such crimes.

“We must stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters to defeat anti-Semitism and vanquish the forces of hate.”

Stephen Weiss, who was in a service at the synagogue at the time, described how members of the congregation fled and hid in the basement.

“It sounded like a loud crash in the hallway,” he said, describing rapid gunfire that sounded like an automatic weapon.

Mr Weiss told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that when he got to the basement he found other members of the congregation also hiding there.

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SOURCE: Nick Allen
The Telegraph