Anti-Semitic attack leaves 11 dead at Pittsburgh synagogue

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Police took a shooter into custody after an anti-Semitic attack that left eleven people dead at a Pittsburgh  synagogue Saturday morning.

It happened inside the Tree of Life Congregation synagogue during a bris, a Jewish baby naming ceremony.

A Pittsburgh TV station reported that the man burst into the building, shouted anti-Semitic comments and then opened fire. 

The 20-minute attack left at least six others wounded, including four police officers.

Police entered the building and had exchanged gunfire with the suspect on the third floor of the building.  The suspect, Robert Bowers, was shot several times be officers.

"It is a very horrific crime scene. It's one of the worst that I've seen and I've been on some plane crashes," said a visibly moved Wendell Hissrich, the Pittsburgh public safety director.

Police have identified the suspect as Robert Bowers, 46, of Pittsburgh. A man with the same name posted on the site on the morning of the shooting that "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 member of the congregation says that on a typical Saturday morning there would be 60-100 people attending services at that time.

Twitter users reported a large police presence around the Squirrel Hill area of the city.  The SWAT team had surrounded the building.

"There is an active shooter in the area of WILKINS and Shady,”" the Pittsburgh Public Safety Department said in a tweet.  "Avoid the area. More info will be released when it is available."

Officers were initially called to the scene around 10 a.m.


The Squirrel Hill section of the city has a large Jewish population and there are multiple synagogues in the area.