Recently, tragedy stuck the Jewish community in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. By nature, houses of worship are to be one of the safest places to be. Sadly, recent trends have proven that this is not always the case.
For the unfortunate congregation at the Tree of Life synagogue a simple Saturday service quickly turned deadly. A perpetrator opened fire on the congregation using a semi-automatic AR-15 assault rifle, as well as multiple hand guns. The result of this atrocity were the lives of 11 church members. Additionally, four police officers and two others sustained wounds. The officers are in stable condition.
The alleged shooter Robert. D. Bowers, age 46 of Pittsburgh has been apprehended by law enforcement. He has no prior criminal record. Bowers faces serious charges which include 29 counts of federal crimes of violence and firearms offenses. These charges include the hate crime of obstructing the free excise of religious beliefs, as well as committing murder with a firearm. State charges include 11 counts of criminal homicide, 6 counts of aggravated assault and 13 counts of ethnic intimidation.
Bowers was seen fleeing the synagogue after firing upon the congregation for several minutes. Law enforcement attempted to apprehend him at the door armed with tactical gear and rifles. The assailant did not give up easily, discharging his weapon on police and eventually hiding out in an upper room. Eventually, Bower’s gave in and surrendered to law enforcement.
Bowers was initially transported to Allegheny General Hospital as he sustained gunshot wounds either by self or during his exchange with police.
This shocking act of violence has been directly tied to hate and racism. Allegedly the gunman shouted anti sematic hate speech before opening fire. Unfortunately, the synagogue did not have any security measures in place, lacking armed security guards or parishioners.
Furthermore, as investigation continues into the life of the perpetrator, online evidence has proven his history of anti-Semitism. It appears that the shooting was a result of hatred for a Jewish, community run, non-profit organization that assists refugees who settle in America. He used Facebook as a medium to spread anti-sematic remarks.
This shooting is the deadliest attack levied upon the Jews in the entire history of the United States. Of the 11 victims, thankfully there were no children, although many children regularly attend services.
This vile, massacre is not the first church shooting to occur in recent years. Sadly, as political and racial tensions continue to increase, attacks on innocent people and places generally perceived as safe, are on the rise. The community continues to reel after this devastating blow.Funeral arrangements have been announced for the victims, as the families and community begin to wrap their minds around this heartbreaking tragedy.