Shots have been fired on a Jewish church in the US city of Pittsburgh, killing at least eleven people. The police arrested the alleged perpetrator for shouting “All Jews must die”.

Pittsburgh Synagogue Attack

In the US metropolis of Pittsburgh, a man shot several people in a synagogue on Saturday and injured others. The alleged perpetrator was arrested. According to the police, there were “numerous victims inside the synagogue”. Also, three policemen had been shot.

“There is an active shooter in the Wilkins and Shady area,” the municipal civil defense agency warned at around 10:00 am (4:00 pm CEST). The authorities, which include the local police, called on the residents to avoid the area. The television showed special forces of the police and ambulances on site.

For the time being, the police were unable to provide information on the exact number of victims. The media reported at least eleven deaths near the synagogue “Tree of Life”, where many believers were staying. The faithful had gathered for the Sabbath. The Tree of Life synagogue is located in the Squirrel Hill district, the historic center of the Jewish community of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

An accurate death toll should not be disclosed until the information is secured, said Wendell Hissrich, Public Security Director for the City of Pittsburgh. It is certain that six people were injured, four of them policemen. “It’s very bad,” said Hissrich. “I’ve seen a lot, including plane crashes,” he said. The scenes in the synagogue were among the worst he has ever seen. Hissrich spoke of a hate crime.

The media reported that the culprit has been identified as a 46-year-old white American who was noticed in social networks through comments. According to official information, the man is being treated in the hospital. The perpetrator shouted when entering the synagogue: “All Jews must die,” as the police told the local channel KDKA of CBS.

US President Donald Trump condemned after campaign appearances in the US states Indiana and Illinois the “hatred” in the US. The attack was “more devastating” than feared. He called the population to caution. The First Lady Melania Trump wrote: “My heart is bleeding.” The violence must stop. US Vice President Mike Pence tweeted: “Let us pray for the dead, the injured, all affected families and our courageous first-aid forces!”

The president of the Greater Pittsburgh Jewish Federation, Jeff Finkelstein, told CNN that he was “very sad”. The act should not have happened. The World Jewish Congress (WJC) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were also shocked. The incident was a “vile act of terrorism,” WJC President Ronald Lauder said on Saturday’s announcement in New York. “It was an attack not only on the Jewish community but on the whole of America.” Netanyahu spoke on Saturday about “terrible anti-Semitic brutality.”

The New York Police announced that it was strengthening security measures for Jewish institutions in the city. Among other things, additional police patrols would be set up.

The governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, tweeted that action was needed to prevent such “tragedies” in the future. This violence should not be “accepted as normal”.

Trump demanded faster death sentences for killers. “They should really pay the ultimate price,” Trump said on Saturday about people shooting worshipers in churches. “You should not wait years over years.” The President also called for armed security personnel to attend church services. “A madman went in and they had no protection,” Trump said about the parishioners. “Armed posts could have stopped him immediately.” The incident has nothing to do with the gun laws. In the United States, more than 30,000 people die each year from firearms.

Sources: Die Presse