Washington, Oct 28 (IANS) At least 10 people were killed in a shooting on Saturday at the Tree of Life synagogue in US state of Pittsburgh, according to Curt Conrad, chief of staff for Pittsburgh City Councilman Corey O’Connor.
The suspect has been identified as Robert Bowers, 46, law enforcement officials told CNN.
The gunman made anti-Semitic statements during the shooting, a law enforcement official said.
Social media postings targeting Jews that are believed to have come from Bowers are a focus of the investigation, a federal law enforcement official told CNN.
Shortly before the shooting, in an account on the Gab social media platform that authorities are investigating, the suspect is believed to have posted he “can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”
The Gab account has frequent anti-Semitic postings.
Four police officers were among six people wounded in the shooting, Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell D. Hissrich said.
“It’s a very horrific crime scene,” Hissrich said at a brief news conference. “It’s one of the worst I’ve seen.”
The shooting will be prosecuted as a hate crime and the FBI will be leading the investigation, City of Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich told reporters.
The synagogue is located at the intersection of Wilkins and Shady avenues. The neighbourhood of Squirrel Hill, about 10 minutes of drive from downtown Pittsburgh, is the hub of the city’s Jewish community.
The synagogue offers members a “traditional Conservative service with a modern sense of family” and shabbat service on 9.45 a.m. on Saturdays, according to the Tree of Life’s website.
US President Donald Trump called the shooting “devastating”, as he spoke to reporters at Andrews Air Force Base in state of Maryland before traveling to Indianapolis, state of Indiana, for an event.
“It’s a ‘terrible thing what’s going on with hate in our country,” he said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was heartbroken, describing the attack at the Pittsburgh synagogue as “horrendous anti-Semitic brutality.”