Key officials and authorities in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, this morning held a press briefing to share updates on the status of the investigation into the Saturday morning massacre in Squirrel Hill, one of the most diverse sections of the city. Eleven people lost their lives and six others were wounded at the hands of the suspected shooter, Robert D. Bowers, 46, who is in custody.
“Today, we stand together as a community,” said U.S. Attorney Scott Brady. “[We’re] a community that rejects hatred and violence, a community where neighbors respect neighbors, where we embrace our religious diversity and we celebrate our differences.”
“Together, we mourn those whose lives were lost, and we begin the healing process,” Brady told the assembled media and the nation.
Brady commended the courageous police officers and SWAT team members who responded at the killing scene, calling them “heroes” who protected innocent victims and prevented additional loss of life.
Brady’s office on Saturday night filed federal charges against defendant Bowers. The complaint alleges that on Saturday, Bowers entered the Tree of Life synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh while congregants were at worship for a baby-naming ceremony.
Brady says Bowers was armed with three Glock .357 handguns and an AR-15 rifle.
Inside the synagogue, Bowers shot and killed 11 individuals and wounded two others.
Bowers shot at police and SWAT team members when the law enforcement officers arrived on the scene shortly after. Four police officers were injured in that exchange of gunfire, three of whom were shot by Bowers.
The mayor of Pittsburgh, Bill Peduto (shown at the top of this article), also spoke at the press conference. “To the victims’ families, to the victims’ friends, we are here for you as a community of one,” he said, in part, after the names of the 11 individuals killed in Saturday’s attack were released.
They range in age from 54 to 97. Two of those killed were brothers; a married couple were also among the deceased.
Dr. Karl Williams, chief medical examiner of Allegheny County, said the 11 deceased were identified late Saturday and that their next of kin have been notified.
The deceased include Joyce Feinberg, 75, of Oakland; Richard Gottfried, 65, of Ross Township; Rose Malinger, 97, of Squirrel Hill; Jerry Rabinowitz, 66, of Edgewood; Cecil Rosenthal, 59, of Squirrel Hill; David Rosenthal, 54, of Squirrel Hill; Bernice Simon, 84, of Wilkinsburg; Sylvan Simon, 86, of Wilkinsburg; Melvin Wax, 88, of Squirrel Hill, and Irving Youngner, 69, of Mount Washington. The Rosenthals were brothers; the Simons were married.
“We will be here to help you through this horrific episode,” Peduto also said. “We’ll get through this darkest day in Pittsburgh’s history.”
Before and during the assault, Bowers made comments about genocide and his desire to kill Jewish people, saying apparently more than once, “All Jews must die.”
Bowers is in federal custody after surrendering to police following a standoff. He sustained multiple gunshot wounds and is in fair condition; he’s currently in the hospital.
The complaint charges Bowers with 29 separate federal crimes. They include 11 counts of murdering victims who were exercising their religious beliefs and eleven counts of using a firearm to commit murder. Each of these counts, Brady explained, is punishable by death.
The seven remaining counts are related to the harm allegedly inflicted by Bowers on law enforcement officers.
“We will spare no effort or resource in ensuring that the defendant is held fully accountable for his unspeakable and hateful crimes,” Brady also said, adding that there are some pieces of information they cannot share while the investigation is underway.
Bowers is scheduled to appear before a federal magistrate judge on Monday, October 29, at 1 p.m.
See these tweets, then watch the video below for more on the Sunday morning press conference:
LIVE: Officials give update on Pittsburgh synagogue attack https://t.co/L0VgKuVGk3
— NBC News (@NBCNews) October 28, 2018
FBI special agent in charge of Pittsburgh office, Bob Jones: "I'd like again to thank Chief Schubert of the Pittsburgh Police for the heroic actions of his officers. Had Bowers made it out of that facility, there's a strong possibility that additional violence would've occurred." pic.twitter.com/YjZ235D0J2
— Fox News (@FoxNews) October 28, 2018
The evil wrought in Pittsburgh today is heartbreaking. The responding officers were brave & heroic, preventing even more carnage.
— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) October 27, 2018
Michele Blood is a Flemington, New Jersey-based freelance writer and a regular contributor to LifeZette.