8 killed in US synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh; shooter identified

                       (Photo Courtesy: Google Image)

New Delhi, Oct 28: A gunman opened fire at a Jewish synagogue in the US city of Pittsburgh on Saturday, killing at least eight persons and injuring several others including three policemen, local media reports said.

Robert Bowers, 46, surrendered after he was injured during an exchange of fire with the police, according to local media reports.

He is being described as a white male, heavy set, with a beard.

He is being questioned and treated at hospital.

The FBI is investigating this as a "hate crime". Before opening fire, the alleged perpetrator reportedly yelled, "All Jews must die!"

President Donald Trump described this as a devastating situation.

"Events in Pittsburgh are far more devastating than originally thought," Trump said as he reiterated that those responsible for such mass shooting be given death penalty.

FBI agents reached the 'Tree of Life' Congregation Synagogue at Squirrel Hill area in Pittsburgh, where a large number of people had gathered for a morning service when the shooting took place.

The FBI, which has taken the lead in the investigation, did not immediately say on the motive of the shooter.

The tragic shooting came within days of the recovery of a series of package bombs across the country that was addressed to several present and former high-ranking officials.

Prominent among them include former president Barack Obama, former vice president Joe Biden, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Indian-origin US Senator Kamala Harris.

Israel's Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon strongly condemned the shooting.

"We all feel the pain of the murder of eight Jews at a Shabbat service. We will stand together like a rock against hatred and against those who try to harm Jews all over the world.

"I send condolences to the families of the murdered and a speedy recovery for the wounded. The entire Jewish people now stands alongside the Jewish community of Pittsburgh," he said.

Ivanka Trump, daughter of US president who is married to a Jew Jarred Kushner, said: "America is stronger than the acts of a depraved bigot and anti-semite. All good Americans stand with the Jewish people to oppose acts of terror & share the horror, disgust & outrage over the massacre in Pittsburgh. We must unite against hatred & evil".

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said President Donald Trump is monitoring the situation.

"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!" Trump said in a tweet.

"Saddened and appalled by the cowardly act of evil committed at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. We stand in total solidarity with the victims and all of the Jewish community against bigotry and hate," Sanders said.

"Monitoring reports of a shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Praying for the fallen, the injured, all the families impacted, and our courageous first responders. God bless them all," Vice President Mike Pence said.

According to Michael Eisenberg, past president of Tree of Life Synagogue the shooting happened during weekly Shabbat services at the Jewish synagogue. At the time, three simultaneous congregation services were taking place.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf described it as a tragedy.

"The shooting in Pittsburgh this morning is an absolute tragedy...These senseless acts of violence are not who we are as Americans. My thoughts right now are focused on the victims, their families and making sure law enforcement has every resource they need," he said.

"We cannot accept this violence as normal," Wolf said.

The US Holocaust Memorial Museum strongly condemned the shooting and reminded all Americans of the dangers of unchecked hatred and antisemitism which must be confronted wherever they appear and called on all Americans to actively work to promote social solidarity and respect the dignity of all individuals.

"My heart goes out to the Jewish community of Pittsburgh and to the families broken apart by this senseless tragedy," Indian-American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal said.

"I founded an organisation that we called Hate Free Zone— today, the actions we take to defeat anti-Semitism and hate in all its forms are more critical than ever," she said.  

PTI