Pittsburgh synagogue shooting: suspect held as multiple fatalities reported

The Guardian – By Martin Pengelly/New York, Lois Beckett/San Francisco, Mike Elk/Pittsburgh – Sat 27 Oct 2018

AP_18300590328325

Photo: First responders at the synagogue where the shooter opened fire. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar).

At least four people and as many as eight were dead after a man began shooting at a synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighbourhood of Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Bill Peduto, mayor of Pittsburgh, told reporters four people were killed at the Tree of Life synagogue. Local media reported the toll at eight. Police officials told media the gunman was in custody and three officers had been shot. They did not confirm officially the number of fatalities. The gunman was taken to Mercy hospital in the city.

The local CBS affiliate KDKA reported that people barricaded inside the synagogue had made calls out, adding that people had also been wounded.

KDKA reported the suspect was “white male [with] a beard” and said he “walked in yelling ‘All Jews must die’”. A reporter described “an exchange of gunfire between the police and suspect on the third floor” and “two officers shot in that exchange of gunfire”. The gunman was injured and surrendered after negotiation, the station said.

Jeff Finkelstein, chief executive of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, told reporters the Tree of Life was a “Conservative” synagogue and said a little more than half of the Jewish community in the greater Pittsburgh area lived in and around the Squirrel Hill neighborhood.

The shooting was reported to have happened shortly after 10am. Michael Eisenberg, a past president of the synagogue, told media there would have been three simultaneous services going on in the main building, with 30 to 40 people in two larger services and about 15 in a smaller one.

One of the services was a bris, a circumcision ceremony involving a child.

“We’ve never had any threats,” Eisenberg said, adding that the synagogue had consulted with the Department of Homeland Security and other synagogues about safety precautions, including making doors easier to open from the inside so people could escape.

KDKA said some of its reporters lived close to the synagogue, and some reportedly have friends affiliated with it.

In Washington, Donald Trump tweeted that he was “watching the events unfolding in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Law enforcement on the scene. People in Squirrel Hill area should remain sheltered. Looks like multiple fatalities. Beware of active shooter. God Bless All!”

Read entire article and see video here

Posted by Teri Perticone

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