Police authorities report that a gunman shot dead at least four people in a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday morning. Twelve people were affected in total, including three police officers.
An armed man reportedly opened fire on worshipers gathered for prayer at the Tree of Life synagogue in the center of the city.
“There are many casualties,” local police chief Jason Lando told the media.
Director of Public Safety Wendell Hissrich announced that there are six wounded, including four police officers.
A suspect surrendered to police and was taken to the hospital.
“The suspect of the shooting is in custody. We have many victims inside the synagogue,” a spokesman for the police said.
This attack, whose motives were not immediately clear, caused consternation in the city.
Several officials have revealed the shooter’s identity to the news channel CBS News. According to this information, the suspect is Robert Bowers, a 46-year-old white man from Pittsburgh. He allegedly published numerous antisemitic messages on social media.
CBS television reports that the gunman made anti-Semitic remarks before returning to the synagogue.
The police continue to search the building and try to determine if there are other threats.
The investigation was handled by the FBI.
After asking the population to remain confined, the authorities estimated, at the beginning of the afternoon, that there was no danger for the community.
New York police said it was improving security around places of worship in the city, including extra patrols and heavily armed officers.
The synagogue encircled by the police
Pittsburgh police surrounded the synagogue, which is located in a Jewish residential neighborhood.
The synagogue contains three congregations: Tree of Life, New Light, and Dor Hadash, all of whom held religious services on Saturday morning.
“I’m just sad. I do not know what to say to you […] it should not happen, point. It should not happen in a synagogue, “Jeff Finkelstein, president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, told CNN.
The president of the synagogue refused to comment on the situation.
According to Pennsylvania’s Governor Tom Wolf, the shooting is “an absolute tragedy”.
“As a result of this tragedy, we must come together and take action to prevent these tragedies in the future. We can not accept this violence as normal, “tweeted Pennsylvania’s Governor Tom Wolf, adding that he has made available all the necessary means for first aid.
Quickly, Donald Trump reacted on Twitter, saying he was watching the developments of the tragedy and ending his message with “May God protect us all”.
In a second tweet, he added that these events “are much more devastating than originally thought”.
Speaking to the media, President Trump said the shooting “has nothing to do with gun control. If someone had been armed this morning, the result would have been different. We should strengthen our laws on the death penalty. When someone does that, he should be sentenced to death. “