Married couple and brothers among Pittsburgh synagogue shooting victims
The dead also included Joyce Fienberg, Richard Gottfried, Jerry Rabinowitz, Daniel Stein, Irving Younger and Melvin Wax. Fellow members of the New Light Congregation say Wax was a pillar of the congregation, filling many roles there. Friend Myron Snider says Wax, a man in his late 80s, was a retired accountant who was unfailingly generous.
Mayor Bill Peduto called it the “darkest day of Pittsburgh’s history.”
The victims were killed at the Tree of Life Synagogue on Saturday during worship services when gunman Robert Gregory Bowers opened fire.
Bowers was armed with an AR-15 rifle and three handguns and used all four weapons in the attack.
A tactical team tracked Bowers down and shot him, police said in an affidavit.
The US is often thought to be the safest country in the world for Jews. The long shadow of the Holocaust still hangs over Europe, where antisemitism flourishes on the far right and parts of the far left. Jews in Israel are permanently on guard against attack.
In the great melting pot of the US, it was perhaps easier. In Squirrel Hills, the Pittsburgh neighbourhood that is home to the Tree of Life synagogue, local residents have spoken since Saturday’s shooting of harmonious relations between communities.
Last year, however, antisemitic and white supremacist stickers were found on car windscreens, park benches and playground slides. A 2017 study of the city’s Jewish community found that 63% of those in Squirrel Hill were “a little or somewhat” concerned about antisemitism, and 18% were “very much” concerned. Overall in Pittsburgh, 16% of Jews had directly experienced some form of antisemitism in the previous year.
Bowers was then arrested and treated for gunshot wounds at a hospital. While he was being treated for his injuries, Bowers told an officer, according to the police affidavit: “that he wanted all Jews to die and also that they (Jews) were committing genocide to his people”.
Bowers was charged late Saturday with 11 state counts of criminal homicide, six counts of aggravated assault and 13 counts of ethnic intimidation in what the leader of the Anti-Defamation League called the deadliest attack on Jews in US history. Bowers was also charged Saturday in a 29-count federal criminal complaint that included charges of obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs — a federal hate crime — and using a firearm to commit murder.
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the charges “could lead to the death penalty”.