Violence has once again come to a place of worship in the United States. On Saturday morning, a dozen people were shot — at least eight fatally — when a gunman began shooting at a conservative Jewish synagogue in Pennsylvania.
That place of worship is called the Tree of Life Congregation, which is located on the eastern side of Pittsburgh. Outlets including The New York Times reported that the attacker had surrendered to police after shooting three responding officers, though all of the police are expected to recover.
KDKA News used Twitter to report the suspected shooter’s name: Robert Bowers.
“It is believed the suspect, identified by multiple law enforcement officials as Rob Bowers, 46, of Pittsburgh, was armed with an AR-15-style rifle and multiple handguns,” NBC News also confirmed.
Online sleuths quickly identified haunting posts apparently made by Bowers before the rampage, and they paint a picture of an angry and mentally unstable anti-Semite.
Posts from the suspected Pittsburgh shooter Robert Bowers. He hated Trump and thought Trump was controlled by Jews. This monster is an unhinged anti-Semitic terrorist. pic.twitter.com/sjb2k6ucwb
— Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) October 27, 2018
“HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in,” a confirmed user named Robert Bowers posted on social media prior to the tragedy.
“HIAS” appears to refer to a Jewish charity organization which has helped refugees, and dates back to 1881.
“Jews are the children of Satan,” the alleged shooter’s online profile also declared.
Other posts that seem to be from the shooter suggest that he held radical political views and was no fan of the current president. Several screenshots attributed to Bowers demonstrate a dislike of President Trump and promoted conspiracy theories that the president was being controlled by Jews.
While radical anti-Semitic views appear to be a motivating factor, it is unclear why the synagogue in Pittsburgh was specifically targeted.
“Tree of Life … offers members a traditional Conservative service with a modern sense of family. Join us for services that are as timely and intellectually compelling as they are steeped in traditional, Conservative Judaism,” the congregation’s site states.
The president and Jewish leaders responded to the attack with words of shock and outrage.
“We are devastated. Jews targeted on Shabbat morning at synagogue, a holy place of worship, is unconscionable,” posted Jonathan Greenblatt of the Anti-Defamation League. “Our hearts break for the victims, their families, and the entire Jewish community.”
We are devastated. Jews targeted on Shabbat morning at synagogue, a holy place of worship, is unconscionable. Our hearts break for the victims, their families, and the entire Jewish community.
— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) October 27, 2018
“Events in Pittsburgh are far more devastating than originally thought. Spoke with Mayor and Governor to inform them that the Federal Government has been, and will be, with them all the way,” President Trump posted on Twitter, with along with a note that he would speak in person about the incident shortly.
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