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Pittsburgh shooting: Synagogue attack

Eleven people were killed and six wounded on Saturday in a shootings in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The suspect, Robert Bowers, a 46-year-old white man, surrendered and was taken into custody. A few minutes before the shooting, he had published anti-Semitic comments on a social network close to the American extreme right.

What is the latest from Pittsburgh?

The names were read out by officials at a press briefing on Sunday morning.

Other details from the briefing:

  • The gun suspect used three Glock 57 handguns and an AR-15 assault rifle
  • He made statements regarding genocide and a desire to kill Jewish people
  • 22 of the 29 counts against the defendant are punishable by death
  • The suspect is in fair condition with multiple gunshot wounds. There is nothing to indicate any accomplices
  • The suspect’s home and car have been searched
  • The suspect will appear in court on Monday
  • The families are in shock and the media are asked to give them space
  • There are extra patrols around sensitive areas in the city
  • One injured officer was released from hospital on Saturday, another should be released on Sunday
  • Mayor Peduto said: “To the victims’ families and friends – we will be here to help you through this horrific episode – the darkest day of Pittsburgh’s history. We as a society are better than this, we know that hatred will never win out.”

What are the charges?

The 29 charges were announced in a statement issued by the US Attorney’s Office of the Western District of Pennsylvania:

  • Eleven counts of obstruction of exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death
  • Eleven counts of use of a firearm to commit murder during and in relation to a crime of violence
  • Four counts of obstruction of exercise of religious beliefs resulting in bodily injury to a public safety officer
  • Three counts of use and discharge of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence

How did the shooting unfold?

On Saturday morning, worshippers had gathered at the Tree of Life synagogue for a baby naming ceremony during the Sabbath.

Squirrel Hill has one of the largest Jewish populations in Pennsylvania and this would have been the synagogue’s busiest day of the week.

Police said they received first calls about an active shooter at 09:54 local time (13:54 GMT), and sent officers to the scene a minute later.

According to reports, Mr Bowers, a white male, entered the building during the morning service armed with an assault rifle and three handguns.

The gunman had already shot dead 11 people and was leaving the synagogue after about 20 minutes when he encountered Swat officers and exchanged fire with them, FBI agent Robert Jones said.

The attacker then moved back into the building to try to hide from the police.

He surrendered after a shootout.

The crime scene was “horrific”, Pittsburgh’s Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich told reporters. “One of the worst I’ve seen, and I’ve [worked] on some plane crashes. It’s very bad.”

What do we know about the gunman?

US media said he had shouted “All Jews must die” as he carried out the attack.

Social media posts by someone with the name Robert Bowers were also reported to be full of anti-Semitic comments.

FBI special agent Bob Jones told a press conference that Mr Bowers did not appear to be known to authorities prior to the attack.

Read the full article here.

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