What we know about the shooting

What we know about the shooting

Breaking News
A police officer stands outside the synagogue Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Police were guarding the synagogue in the wake of the shooting

A gunman has entered a Pittsburgh synagogue and opened fire, killing 11 people.

Six people were injured, among them four police officers, in the attack on the Tree of Life Congregation in Squirrel Hill. The officers are in a stable condition.

The suspect has been named as Robert Bowers, 46. He has been described as a heavy-set, bearded white man.

Here’s what we know so far about the shooting.

Warning: This story contains offensive language and anti-Semitic quotes.

What happened?

Emergency services arrived at the scene at about 10:00 local time (14:00 GMT), during a service.

Two officers – among the first responders – were injured in an initial confrontation with the gunman.

A further two Swat team members were hurt inside the building, clashing with the shooter.

All four are in a stable condition, authorities said.

Image copyright Getty Images

Image caption Pittsburgh’s Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich called the crime scene “horrific”

A 61-year-old woman and a 70-year-old man are also currently being treated. The man had gunshot wounds to the torso and is in a critical condition.

The gunman is now in custody after surrendering to the authorities.

The crime scene was “horrific”, Pittsburgh’s Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich told reporters. “One of the worst I’ve seen, and I’ve [worked] on some plane crashes. It’s very bad,” he added.

Who are the victims?

Details about the 11 people killed are starting to emerge.

Officials confirmed on Saturday that no children were among the casualties.

According to a criminal complaint filed against the accused gunman, eight men and three women were killed in the attack.

The victims’ identities are expected to be released by officials at 09:00 local time on Sunday (14:00 GMT).

One male victim was named locally on Saturday night as 71-year-old Daniel Stein.

His nephew, Steven Halle, described him as “somebody that everybody liked” and a “kind soul”.

He said his uncle had recently become a grandfather and attended the synagogue every Saturday for services.

What is the synagogue?

The Tree of Life was set up more than 150 years ago, its website says.

It merged with nearby Or L’Simcha congregation about five years ago, to form the Tree of Life – Or L’Simcha Congregation.

The synagogue is in Pittsburgh’s east-end Squirrel Hill area, which has a large Jewish community dating back to the 1920s.

The gunman entered the building during a baby naming ceremony.

Image copyright Google

Image caption The Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Pittsburgh

The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s president Jeff Finkelstein told reporters up to 50 or 60 people regularly worshipped there on Saturday morning.

According to the calendar on its website, Shabbat morning services were scheduled between 09:45 and 12:00.

A Shabbat training programme for children “in kindergarten through 7th grade” was set to run from 10:15 to 11:45, at which attendees learn prayers, take part in the service and study the Torah.

Extra police officers have been deployed at synagogues and Jewish centres across the US after the attack.

What do we know about the gunman?

The suspect has been named as Robert Bowers.

FBI special agent Bob Jones said that Mr Bowers did not appear to be known to authorities prior to events on Saturday.

Image copyright AFP

Mr Bowers has posted anti-Semitic content on social network Gab under the username “onedingo”.

The bio on his account – now suspended – read: “Jews are the children of Satan”.

On Saturday morning, he criticised refugee aid group Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) and said he could not “sit by and watch my people get slaughtered”.

“Screw your optics, I’m going in,” he wrote.

In earlier posts, he attacked US President Donald Trump and his “Make America Great Again” (Maga) slogan, as well as the Jewish community.

“Trump is a globalist, not a nationalist,” he wrote. “There is no #MAGA as long as there is a kike infestation.”

In another post, he said: “For the record, I did not vote for him [Trump] nor have I owned, worn or even touched a maga hat.”

He also expressed support for the QAnon conspiracy – an unsubstantiated, far-right fringe theory based on the belief that Mr Trump is organising a secret plan to investigate and arrest famous or politically elite child abusers.

  • #QAnon: The pro-Trump conspiracy theory

What is Gab?

Gab is a social network site created in August 2016 as an alternative to Twitter.

Founder Andrew Torba told Buzzfeed News he set it up as a response to the “entirely left-leaning Big Social monopoly”.

Critics say it is a space for hate speech and people banned from mainstream social media. It was dubbed “the ultimate filter bubble” in a Wired editorial that attacked the network.

However, Mr Torba stressed the site was not for any particular group or political supporters, and has reiterated this on his Gab page.

The site’s guidelines state its mission is “to put people and free speech first” – although calling for violence, illegal pornography and posting confidential person information about users is prohibited.

In the wake of the shooting, the website released a statement condemning the attack.

“Gab unequivocally disavows and condemns all acts of terrorism and violence,” it read. “This has always been our policy.”

The network says it promptly backed up all the data on the alleged shooter’s account, suspended it, and then contacted the FBI with the information.

Gab: Free speech haven or alt-right safe space?

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