Police authorities from across the city of Pittsburgh are responding to an active shooting situation at the The Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill known for its Jewish population.
Reports state that at least seven people have been confirmed dead, possibly more.
The gunman is reportedly a white male who has surrendered and has been taken into custody and the SWAT team had to talk to him as he was crawling and injured but was still alive. Authorities stated he had burst into synagogue and started firing in the building by shouting “All Jews must die,”
Three officers also were shot during the incident and the officers tried to shield behind their vehicle and extent of their injuries are unclear.
Police have requested that residents stay inside their home as they have exchanged gun fire with a suspected gunman.
The Saturday service was in session and was filled with people and police said they received several calls from people barricaded inside the Synagogue.
Several police have been rescued and police said they are still rescuing more people inside.
Students studying in the Nearby Carnegie Mellon University were also placed under lockdown.
Mayor Bill Peduto is rushing to the scene, President Donald Trump also tweeted saying : “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 ! ”
The shooter has been identified as Robert Bowers, 46, of suburban Baldwin, he surrendered and was believed to make anti-Semitic statements during the shooting and on Social media against Jews and federal law enforcement are continuing to investigate as a total of 11 people were killed, that is three more than what was initially reported. Robert Bowers will face 29 charges and has committed the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in United States history.
He is charged with 11 counts of using a firearm to commit a murder and multiple counts of two hate crimes, namely : obstruction of exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death and obstruction of exercise of religious beliefs resulting in bodily injury to a public safety officer, authorities said.
“These incidents usually occur in other cities,” Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich told reporters Saturday afternoon.
“Today, the nightmare has hit home in the city of Pittsburgh.” “The crimes of violence are based upon the federal civil rights laws prohibiting hate crimes,” US Attorney Scott W. Brady and Bob Jones, FBI special agent in charge of Pittsburgh office, said in a statement.
The investigators recovered three handguns and a rifle from the scene of shooting. Robert bowers is believed to have acted alone and law enforcement had no knowledge prior to shooting. Five victims are at the hospital and four other victims were being treated at UPMC Presbyterian and another victim at UPMC Mercy, so far only one of them has been released.
Investigators tracked Bowers social media account and believe that he had a created an account on Gap and espoused his views on the platform his last post being “I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered,” Bowers wrote. “Screw your optics, I’m going in.”.