Oct. 28 (UPI) — The 11 men and women slain in the Pittsburgh synagogue by a suspected 46-year-old shooter have been identified, authorities said Sunday morning, one day after the rampage.
The victims, who were attending Jewish sabbath prayer services Saturday when the shooter entered the building before 10 a.m., ranged in age from 54 to 97. The victims included a married couple — 84 and 86 — as well as 54- and 59-year-old brothers. Two other women, 75 and 97, also died.
Karl Williams, chief medical examiner in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County, announced the names of the dead at a news conference Sunday morning. The bodies were brought from the synagogue to his office, and Williams said he worked closely with four rabbis.
The six people injured included four police officers, one of whom was released later Saturday and another “we are praying will be released today,” Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert said.
“We can’t say enough for the medical staff about what they were doing for the officers,” Schubert said. “We have incredible hospitals in Pittsburgh.”
Emergency officials transported four of the injured victims to University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Presbyterian, and one each to UPMC Mercy and Allegheny General Hospital. Two worshipers remained hospitalized Sunday, according to the Medical Center. A 61-year-old woman was in stable condition and 70-year-old Daniel Leger, a nurse and UPMC chaplain who was scheduled to lead services, was in critical condition, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette confirmed.
Suspect Robert Bowers, of suburban Baldwin, sustained multiple-shot injuries and was listed in fair condition at Allegheny General Hospital. He surrendered to authorities.
Bowers was charged Saturday night in a 29-count complaint, including obstructing the exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death, using a firearm to commit murder, weapons offenses and charges alleging Bowers seriously injured police officers.
An initial appearance in federal court is scheduled for Monday afternoon in Pittsburgh.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Bob Jones said Bowers appeared to have acted alone and they are checking his residence for clues.
Bowers repeated Sunday the killings are being listed as a hate crime.
A law enforcement official told CNN that the suspect made anti-Semitic remarks after his arrest.
Jones said agents are checking Bowers’ social media accounts. A law enforcement source told CNN that investigators believe a Gab account that espoused anti-Semitic views belonged to Bowers.
“I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered,” Bowers allegedly wrote before the shooting. “Screw your optics, I’m going in.”
Bowers allegedly earlier claimed Jews were helping transport members of the migrant caravans.
He had an assault rifle and three handguns at the time of the attack, which lasted around 20 minutes, Jones said. Victims were killed at all three locations where services were going on.
“Had Bowers made it out of the facility, additional violence would have occurred,” Jones told reporters.
The Anti-Defamation League called this the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in the United States.
The previous high was in 2014 when three died when a white supremacist opened fire outside a Jewish Community Center in a suburb of Kansas City, Mo.
“We’ve seen a marked uptick in anti-Semitic harassment of political figures and other individuals simply based on their faith,” Jonathan Greenblatt, the chief executive and director of the ADL, said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “Anti-Semitism “is almost becoming normalized. And that should shock and move all of us to act.”
Last year, the 1,986 anti-Semitic incidents in the United States rose 57 percent — the largest single-year increase and the second highest number reported since ADL started tracking such data in 1979.
Hissrich said extra patrols have been assigned to “sensitive locations around Pittsburgh,” including at a vigil planned for Sunday night.
“Squirrel Hill is the most diverse area,” Mayor Bill Peduto said. “The Jewish community is the backbone.”
The area around Squirrel Hill will remain closed for up to one week, said Endell Hissrich, Pittsburgh’s public safety director.
Officials are not sure why the suspect attacked this particular place of worship.
In addressing the family members of the victims, the mayor said: “We are here as a community of one for you. We are here to help you through this horrific episode. We will get through this darkest day of Pittsburgh history by working together.”
On Saturday, Hissirch, appearing to hold back tears, said: “It’s a very horrific crime scene. One of the worst I’ve seen. It’s bad.”
Stephen Weiss was inside the synagogue when the shooting began. He said the gunfire sounded like it came from an automatic weapon.
“It sounded like a loud crash in the hallway,” he told the Post-Gazette.
Rose Mallinger, the oldest fatality in the shooting, regularly attended Tree of Life services with her daughter.
“She was just the sweetest. A lovely lady,” member Robin Friedman told CNN. “She had to know everybody there, [whether] old, young. Always a hello, always a hug, always a smile.”
Brothers Cecil and David Rosenthal usually attended services.
“They lived and died there. They came to everything. Sports nights, annual meetings. They were always there in suit and tie,” she said.
President Donald Trump ordered flags in all federal buildings to be flown at half-staff in “solemn respect” until Wednesday for the shooting victims.
Trump, shortly after returning to Washington from the Future Farmers of America convention in Indianapolis and a campaign rally in Murphysboro, Ill., issued a proclamation late Saturday.
“When people do this, they should get the death penalty,” Trump said at the campaign rally at the Southern Illinois Airport. “Anybody that does a thing like this to innocent people that are in temple or in church — we’ve had so many incidents with churches — they should be suffering the ultimate price.”
Capital punishment is a legal penalty under the United States federal government criminal justice system.
Trump also told reporters he planned to travel to Pittsburgh this week.
“This evil Anti-Semitic attack is an assault on humanity,” Trump posted on Twitter on Saturday. “It will take all of us working together to extract the poison of Anti-Semitism from our world. We must unite to conquer hate.”
Greenblast said “anti-Semitism has moved from the margins into the mainstream as political candidates and people in public life now literally repeat the rhetoric of white supremacists” — referring indirectly to Trump.
“We would hope and we should all demand that those in elected office won’t just, you know, give platitudes after the fact,” Greenblatt said. “But they will help ratchet back the rhetoric right now. And they will, you know, if the white supremacists are saying and celebrating what you’re doing, that should be a problem for all of us. So I’d like to see him and other electeds across the aisle stand up and shut it down now.”
The death toll was the worst at a house of worship since 26 people were killed and 20 wounded after a gunman dressed in tactical gear opened fire at a church outside San Antonio on Nov. 5. Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, died after three gunshot wounds, including one self-inflicted.
Dylann Roof was convicted in the massacre at a black church in Charleston in which nine members died in 2015. The white supremacist was sentenced to death by federal jurors in January 2017.’