Mass shooting at Pittsburgh synagogueBy Eric Levenson and Ray Sanchez, CNN
Robert Bowers, the suspect in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, posted photos on September 29 of his handgun collection to his Gab.com account, which included multiple clips and sights.
On September 20, Bowers posted photos of shooting targets from what he says is from July 2017. Bowers said he was firing at the targets with a Walther PPQ.
Gab is a social media platform that advocates for free speech and puts nearly no restrictions on content. Shortly before the shooting, Bowers posted on his Gab account that he “can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”
Jewish people were the victims of more reported hate crimes than any other religious minority in 2016, according to the most recent year of FBI statistics.
In that year, 684 anti-Jewish incidents were reported. That's more than the rest of religiously motivated hate crimes combined, records reveal.
The FBI showed an overall increase in reported hate crimes of more than 4% from 2015 to 2016.
Anti-Islamic (anti-Muslim) crimes accounted for 307, up 19% from the previous year. That was the biggest percentage rise.
You can read about the hate-crime statistics here.
A number of rampage shootings have targeted synagogues, churches and other places of worship in recent years.
- Saturday: A gunman opened fire at the start of Shabbat services at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
- Wednesday: A white man who allegedly killed two people at a Kroger grocery store in Kentucky had tried to enter a predominantly black church nearby minutes before the fatal shooting, police said. He was unable to enter the church.
- November 5, 2017: A gunman opened fire on a small church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing 25 people and an unborn child and wounding 20 others.
- June 17, 2015: Dylann Roof, 21, shot and killed nine people inside the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Charleston, South Carolina.
- August 5, 2012: Six people were killed and four wounded when a 40-year-old man opened fire with a semi-automatic handgun at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
The shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue was an act of anti-Semitism, President Donald Trump said to start a speech at the Future Farmers of America event in Indianapolis.
He continued: "Anti-Semitism and the widespread persecution of Jews represents one of the ugliest and darkest features of human history. The vile hate-filled poison of anti-Semitism must be condemned and confronted everywhere and anywhere it appears. There must be no tolerance for anti-Semitism in America or for any form of religious or racial hatred or prejudice."
Trump called for an end to divisions in the country, but argued that moving past divisions doesn’t mean he and others can’t “fight hard” and “say what’s on our mind.”
“Today with one unified voice we condemn the historic evil of anti-Semitism and every other form of evil, and unfortunately, evil comes in many forms,” Trump said.
“We must all rise above the hate, move past our divisions and embrace our common destiny as Americans, and it doesn’t mean we can’t fight hard and be strong and say what’s on our mind, but we also have to remember those elements, we have to remember the elements of love and dignity and respect and so many others,” Trump said.
Ten people were killed in the shooting inside Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue on Saturday morning, Pittsburgh City Councilman Corey O’Connor’s Chief of Staff Curt Conrad told CNN.
Five victims are being treated at two Pittsburgh hospitals, said Paul Wood, a spokesman for University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Four victims are being treated at UMPC Presbyterian and one victim is being treated at UMPC Mercy.
One person was treated at Presbyterian and was released.
Robert Bowers, the suspect in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, has an active license to carry a firearm, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation.
Bowers has made at least six known firearm purchases since 1996, the source said.
Below is a photo of suspect Robert Bowers, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation.
Bowers, 46, made anti-Semitic comments during the synagogue shooting, a law enforcement official told CNN. He was taken into custody, police said.
President Trump told pool reporters off camera that he and his staff are exploring their options about tonight’s rally and are considering cancelling the event at Southern Illinois Airport, outside Carbondale.
The Future Farmers of America event in Indianapolis is still on.
Trump said the shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh “looks definitely like it’s an anti-Semitic crime.”
“We’re learning a lot about it. It looks definitely like it’s an anti-Semitic crime. And that is something you wouldn’t believe could still be going on,” Trump said. "It would seem to be an anti-Semitic crime."
Trump has spoken to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and has pledged his support and federal help. He also said he has talked with Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.
A federal law enforcement official tells CNN that Robert Bowers’ social media postings are a focus of their investigation into the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.
Shortly before the shooting, shooting suspect Robert Bowers posted on his Gab account that he "can't sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I'm going in."
In that same posting, Bowers wrote "HIAS likes to bring in invaders that kill our people." HIAS is a Jewish refugee advocacy group that held a "National Refugee Shabbat" last weekend.
Bowers' Gab account has frequent anti-Semitic postings. He has reposted a number of posts on his social media accounts that tell Jews to get out, or leave.
17 days before the attack, Bowers posted a web page from HIAS that listed a number of Shabbats that were being held on behalf of refugees. On that list was a Shabbat address that is less than a mile away from the Tree of Life Synagogue.
The CEO of HIAS told CNN that Bowers is not known to the group.
Gab is a social media platform that advocates for free speech and puts nearly no restrictions on content.
In a statement posted online, Gab said they "unequivocally disavows and condemns all acts of terrorism and violence...Gab’s mission is very simple: to defend free expression and individual liberty online for all people."
After they were alerted to the suspect's profile on their platform, they say they backed up the data, suspended the account, and contacted the FBI.
A law enforcement source confirmed to CNN that investigators believe the social media postings belong to Bowers and that the language on his account matches the suspected motivation behind the shootings.