(EDITOR’S NOTE, 10/27/18, 10:56 PM ET: This article has been amended to account for the new death toll of 11 people killed in the synagogue shooting.)
On Saturday, a man carrying an AR-15 rifle and at least one handgun walked into the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood and killed 11 people.
According to local media, the man who carried out the synagogue shooting was heard saying “all Jews need to die.”
“It is imperative that the neighbors in the community surrounding the Tree of Life synagogue stay in their houses and shelter in place. Do not come out of your home right now. It is not safe,” a Pittsburgh police spokesman told reporters at the scene.
— Meghan Schiller (@MeghanKDKA) October 27, 2018
Pittsburgh PD radio reports suspect shooter in attack at Tree of Life Synagogue stated, "All these Jews need to die." Police radio reports he's in custody, self-ID'd as age 46, DOB 9/4/1972 surrendered with AR-15 & Glock. Withholding name for confirmation. Multiple fatalities.
— Brenda Flanagan (@FlanaganNJTV) October 27, 2018
BREAKING: Pittsburgh police: Multiple casualties at Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill pic.twitter.com/V4nnONkkSl
— NBC News (@NBCNews) October 27, 2018
The shooter has been described as a heavy-set white male with a beard, and is currently in custody after suffering injuries. In addition to the eight people killed, three police officers were also shot.
“At 9:45 there were three simultaneous congregations’ services that were being held,” Tree of Life president Michael Eisenberg told CBS affiliate KDKA. “In the main part of the building, The Tree of Life has a service that has about 40 people in it. Just below that there is a basement area where New Life congregation would have been having their Shabbat service. There would have been 30-40 people. Just adjacent to Tree of Light’s service area, a congregation was in the rabbi study room and they would have had approximately 15 people in there.”
Saturday’s shooting comes just one day after a Florida man was arrested for allegedly sending pipe bombs in the mail to prominent Democrats and critics of President Trump, and a white man shooting two black people to death at a Kentucky grocery store after failing to get inside a local black church.
The mail bombs and the Kentucky shooting followed news of the FBI arresting the leader of a neo-Nazi street gang, who, along with several members of his gang, faces federal rioting charges for allegedly beating up counter-protesters at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville last year. Roughly two weeks ago, a pro-Trump gang called the “Proud Boys” was caught on video assaulting counter-protesters while police stood by and didn’t intervene.
According to data from the Global Terrorism Database, 57 percent of all terrorism in the United States is carried out by right-wing extremists. However, in August of last year, President Trump cut funding to programs aimed at fighting right-wing domestic terrorism.
Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.