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Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting: Tragedy Prompts Condemnation, Prayers From All Angles

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) --- With the mass shooting at The Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood on Saturday, a number of high-profile figures sent their condolences and support to the community that now must find a way to recover from a senseless act.

President Donald Trump said, "Events in Pittsburgh are far more devastating than originally thought. Spoke with Mayor and Governor to inform them that the Federal Government has been, and will be, with them all the way."

Vice President Mike Pence and White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders offered their thoughts and prayers, as well.


Former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama also tweeted their condolences to the victim's families and support for the City of Pittsburgh.

The chief of the chief of the New York City Police Department tweeted:

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto Tweeted out a hotline for victim family members. They can call 412-432-4400.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Tweeted the following:

The U.S. Holocaust Museum issues its condemnation of the event, saying, "We strongly condemn the shooting at the #TreeOfLifeSynagogue in #Pittsburgh. These events remind us of the dangers of unchecked hatred and antisemitism. We call on Americans to promote social solidarity and respect the dignity of all individuals."

Ambassador Dani Dayan, Consul General of Israel in New York said, "Today, murderous anti-Semitism has reached our borders, and the State of Israel stands with the Jewish community of Pittsburgh, shoulder to shoulder."

The Consulate General of Israel in New York, which is also responsible for Pennsylvania Ambassador Dayan will arrive in Pittsburgh on Saturday evening along with Diaspora Minister Naftali Bennett, who is flying from Israel.

City of Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich addressed the event to the media, saying, "As the mayor mentioned, we've had a tragedy here today. The work of the first responders is what probably prevented it from becoming much more of a tragedy for what it is.

"The scene is very bad inside. There are multiple fatalities. There are at least six injuries to include four police officers. The police officers injures at this time are non-life threatening. At this time, the other individuals are critical and severe in nature. They were taken to three of the Level 1 and Level 2 trauma centers here in Pittsburgh – that being Allegheny General, UPMC Presbyterian and UPMC Mercy.

"At this time, I would like to say that we have established a phone number with the assistance of the FBI for any victim's families. That number is 412-432-4400.

"A victim's assistance and reunification center has been set up at Chatham University on Chatham's campus. We have grief counselors there as well as the Red Cross.

"At this time this is being considered a federal violation and the primary investigative agency will be the Federal Bureau of investigation.

"I would like to personally thank the first responders who responded to this incident today to include the Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, EMS, Allegheny County Police, FBI, ATF and numerous others that I can't even count.

"This will be a lengthy crime scene and we are asking people who don't need to be in this are to please stay away from it so that both the investigators and first responders do their job.

"I will emphasize at this time that there appears to be no active threat to the community. We believe the subject that is responsible for this has been taken into custody."

Pittsburgh Catholic Bishop David Zubik said, "Anti-Jewish bigotry, and all religious and ethnic bigotry, is a terrible sin. As we pray for peace in our communities and comfort for the grieving, we must put prayer into action by loving our neighbors and working to make 'Never again!' a reality. May God free us from fear and hatred, and sow peace in our lives, our communities and in the world."

The following is the text of a letter Bishop Dorsey McConnell of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh sent to congregations throughout southwestern Pennsylvania:

"A short time ago, a gunman entered Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill, apparently shouting anti-Jewish slogans and shooting into the crowd of worshipers gathered for the Sabbath. As of this writing, eight people are known dead and others injured.

"The newscasts, sickeningly, are referring again and again to this horror as a "tragedy." It is no such thing. A tragedy is inevitable. This was not. It was murder, murder of a particularly vile and poisonous kind. Human beings have moral agency. Someone chose to hate, and chose to kill. And now we are faced with a choice as well— to do nothing, or to reject this hatred in the strongest possible words and actions, and to refute in every way, in every forum, the philosophical foundations of anti-Semitism wherever they have gained a foothold in our churches and our society.

"We are waiting upon the leadership of the Jewish community of Pittsburgh as they consider an appropriate common response in which we also may join to express our grief and support. In the meantime, I ask all the congregations of this diocese to keep the people of Tree of Life, and their leadership, in our prayers, mentioning them particularly, during the prayers of the people in tomorrow's liturgies, and including a time of silence in commemoration of their dead under the biddings for the departed.

"This terror is added to the great heap of such crimes we have witnessed in the past. Yet our hope is not dimmed, and our obligation is clear: "Behold, I set before you this day, life and death, blessing and curse: therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live." (Deuteronomy 30:19) May we especially who bear the name of Christ be fierce in our love and unwavering in our courage, as we mourn with those who mourn, and work with others to lay the foundations for blessing, life and peace for all people."

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said, "On behalf of everybody here is Pennsylvania, these are our neighbors. These are fellow Pennsylvanians and this is an incredibly sad day. I want to thank the first responders for doing what they have done to make us safe and to respond so quickly and so effectively to this tragedy."

Prior to that live statement to the media, Wolf released a statement that said, "The shooting in Pittsburgh this morning is an absolute tragedy. I have spoken with local leaders and my administration and the Pennsylvania State Police will provide any resources to assist local law enforcement and first responders.

"These senseless acts of violence are not who we are as Americans. My thoughts right now are focused on the victims, their families and making sure law enforcement has every resource they need.

"We must all pray and hope for no more loss of life. But we have been saying "this one is too many" for far too long. Dangerous weapons are putting our citizens in harm's way.

"And in the aftermath of this tragedy, we must come together and take action to prevent these tragedies in the future. We cannot accept this violence as normal."

Attorney General Josh Shapiro said, "The violence against the Tree of Life congregation today is horrific. It is an assault on the liberties our country and Commonwealth were founded to protect. When any one community is targeted with violence, intimidation or discrimination it threatens all of us and must be condemned. That this attack took place in a house of worship where congregants seek safety and peace is particularly perverse and is an attempt to intimidate people of faith. That attempt will never succeed.

"I'm proud to stand with the brave men and women in law enforcement who put their lives at risk to save others today. I am profoundly grateful to them for their bravery.

"My prayers are with the victims of this heinous act and the loved ones left behind who grieve for them. As the congregants of Tree of Life, the people of Pittsburgh and Pennsylvanians across our Commonwealth grapple with this latest atrocity over the coming days and weeks, we must act to quell this senseless violence. There will be hard conversations ahead, looking at both our words and our laws, but they are critical for us to heal and move forward together."

Sen. Jay Costa's statement said, "The Squirrel Hill community of Pittsburgh suffered an act of unspeakable violence today. A gunman entered the Tree of Life Synagogue during Shabbat services, murdering and wounding people at prayer.

"I went to the Tree of Life Synagogue this morning and spoke with Jeff Finkelstein, the president of the Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh, and offered to help in any way that I can.

"Gun violence anywhere is devastating, but to attack people in their place of worship is deeply horrific. We do not yet know the shooter's motivations, but we do know that our Jewish friends and neighbors, and all of Pittsburgh, is in pain today.

"My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and our entire Jewish community."

House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody issued the following statement: "I thank police and first responders for their quick response and bravery during the situation.

"Please join me in keeping the victims and their families in our thoughts and prayers. As Pennsylvanians, we must come together to offer the victims, their families and the community whatever assistance and support they need.

"Moving forward, I and my colleagues in the legislature will continue to support law enforcement and our local communities, and by working together, we can help make our state a place where all people are safe in their homes, schools and daily lives, and where we all respect the contributions, dignity and humanity of every Pennsylvanian."

Duquesne University President Ken Gormley issued the following statement:

"The Duquesne University community is devastated and terribly saddened over the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the city's Squirrel Hill neighborhood. Many of our students, faculty, staff and administrators have friends and family in the congregation and in the neighborhood and have attended services there. My own family members live within blocks of this synagogue, and I have attended services at this beautiful place of worship over the years. As a Catholic university, we are especially disturbed and disheartened that a religious institution was targeted. Our deepest sympathies and prayers go out to the victims, police officers, members of the congregation and the entire Jewish community."

The Christian Associates issued a statement as well, saying, "Christian Associates of Southwest Pennsylvania expresses deep sympathy to our Jewish brothers and sisters following this morning's mass shooting at Tree of Life Congregation in Squirrel Hill. Together, we pray that the memories of the dead may be always a blessing. We pray for healing for the wounded. We pray for peace for the frightened and traumatized. We pray for an end to all violence fueled by hatred and bigotry.

"For decades, the Jewish community of Southwest Pennsylvania has been our cherished partner as we have worked together for interfaith understanding and the well-being of our shared neighborhoods. In this time of great suffering, we stand ready to offer our tears, our strength, and our support. We look forward to standing with our Jewish brothers and sisters in public expressions of sorrow and solidarity in the coming days."

Actor Tom Hanks who has been in the Pittsburgh area shooting a Mister Rogers movie sent out this tweet.

Pittsburgh sports teams gave their thoughts and prayers to the victims and those affected.

Professional actor and Pittsburgh native Joe Manganiello said, "My thoughts are back home today with the people of Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh."

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