News and Commentary

LATEST: Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooter Charged, DOJ May Seek Death Penalty

Law enforcement officials have released further details about a man who killed eleven people and wounded six more in what authorities believe is the worst anti-Semitic attack in American history.

The shooter opened fire inside the Tree of Life Synagogue Saturday, shouting “all Jews must die,” and blamed innocent synagogue worshippers for “committing genocide to his people.”

Authorities released the names of the victims Sunday morning, Fox News reports. They included “a grandfather, a husband and wife, and two brothers.”

The Tree of Live victims were identified as Joyce Fienberg, 75, of Oakland; Richard Gottfried, 65, of Ross Township; Rose Mallinger, 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, 87, of Wilkinsburg; Daniel Stein, 71, of Squirrel Hill; Melvin Wax, 88, of Squirrel Hill; and Irving Younger, 69, of Mount Washington.

Four police officers were also wounded in the shooting, along with two other worshippers.

In an additional statement Sunday morning, federal prosecutors revealed that the shooter sustained multiple gunshot wounds in a shootout with police, but was taken alive and is expected to recover.

Pittsburgh prosecutors have already charged the shooter with “11 counts of criminal homicide, six counts of aggravated assault and 13 counts of ethnic intimidation;” Federal prosecutors added an additional 26 charges including weapons offenses, incitement to violence, federal firearm offenses, and U.S. civil rights violations.

“The actions of [the shooter] represent the worst of humanity. We are dedicating the entire resources of my office to this federal hate crime investigation and prosecution,” the U.S. Attorney for Pennsylvania told reporters in a press conference Saturday night.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions also announced Sunday that the federal government may seek the death penalty against the shooter.

Authorities are still struggling to understand how the shooter selected the Tree of Life Synagogue, and how law enforcement missed signs the shooter may have been intending an attack. FBI officials processing the crime scene and conducting an initial investigation told reporters late Saturday that the shooter was unknown to law enforcement, though he appeared to have issued anti-Semitic threats and posted in anti-Semitic online forums regularly.

The shooter was allegedly known to have been virulently anti-Semitic, posting on Gab — a social media network designed to be a “Twitter alternative” — that organizations like the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, which helps Jewish refugees relocating from overseas, often from Communist countries, “like[] 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.”

He also expressed hatred for President Donald Trump, claiming the president was a puppet leader.

President Trump responded to the shooting late Saturday, calling it a ” wicked act of pure evil” and a “devastating situation.”