Shooting At Pittsburgh Synagogue Leaves 11 Dead
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
We're here because we wanted to spend some time today talking about the midterm elections, which are just a few days away. But we're going to begin our program with news of another horrific mass shooting - this time at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pa. Eleven people died, and at least six people were injured, according to officials. A public safety official in the city described the synagogue as a horrific crime scene. President Trump addressed the shooting at a political event this afternoon and said federal authorities have been dispatched help - to help investigate. He condemned the shooting as a wicked act of mass murder.
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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: 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.
MARTIN: Reporter Sarah Schneider of member station WESA is covering this tragedy, and she is with us now.
Sarah, thanks so much for talking with us.
SARAH SCHNEIDER, BYLINE: Yeah. Thank you.
MARTIN: What do we know about the identity of the victims? Police officers, we know, were among the wounded. Can you tell us any more?
SCHNEIDER: We don't know anything about - We haven't identified the 11 people who were killed today. We do know that none of the people who were killed were children. We do know that there were six injured victims. And two of the injured victims are a 61-year-old female, a 70-year-old male, and then also four police officers. Two of those officers were first responders, and two were SWAT officers.
MARTIN: Can you tell us a bit more about the synagogue and the community where this happened?
SCHNEIDER: Yeah. The synagogue is in Squirrel Hill. It's this vibrant, you know, active Jewish community in Pittsburgh. And today, when I was on the scene, we saw, you know, many people who were concerned about friends and family members who they knew were in the building that day, this morning, and a lot of people just confused, trying to figure out where those people were.
MARTIN: Can you tell us a bit more about the alleged gunman? And I understand that he was taken into custody alive.
SCHNEIDER: Yeah. We do know the gunman is alive. He's in fair condition with a gunshot wound that the director of public safety in Pittsburgh says he believes to be from police officers. They haven't given any other details about this person, but we do know that there will - they assume that, you know, charges will come down, possibly today.
MARTIN: Can you tell us a bit more about what type of weapon or weapons he used? And can you tell us any more about how long it took to subdue him?
SCHNEIDER: We know that he had three handguns and an assault rifle. But it is unclear if he used all of them in the shooting. We were told he's been in the building - he was in the building today for about 20 minutes. And, as he was exiting the synagogue, officers confronted him, and that's when the two SWAT officers were injured. Then he retreated into the building.
MARTIN: Do you know how many people were in the synagogue at the time and if there were any security guards posted? And the reason I raise that is that President Trump rejected the idea that this has anything to do with gun laws, but he said that if the synagogue had had an armed guard inside that the gunman could have been stopped. So can you tell us any more about that?
SCHNEIDER: Yeah. Yeah. We don't know how many people were in the building today. Officials haven't confirmed that number yet. But we - I do know that there were no security guards posted. The synagogue is typically locked throughout the week, and then the doors are open on Saturday morning. That's according to a former rabbi I spoke with today who works - has worked in the building.
MARTIN: That is reporter Sarah Schneider of member station WESA in Pittsburgh. We thank you for your reporting.
We will continue to follow this story, and we will bring you updates throughout the program. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.