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Leaders condemn deadly shooting at Squirrel Hill synagogue |

Leaders condemn deadly shooting at Squirrel Hill synagogue

Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Governor Tom Wolf speaks to members of the media at the scene of a mass shooting at a synagogue in Squirrel Hill on Oct. 27, 2018.

Politicians, religious leaders and other notable figures condemned the shooting Saturday at Tree of Life Congregation synagogue. Below is a sampling of what they said:

“This wicked act of mass murder is pure evil, hard to believe and, frankly, something that is unimaginable. … Anti-Semitism and the widespread persecution of Jews represents one of the ugliest and darkest features of human history. … We are praying for the families of the victims, and our hearts go out to the wounded law enforcement officers of Pittsburgh. … We must all rise above the hate, move past our divisions and embrace our common destiny as Americans.”

— President Donald Trump, speaking the Future Farmers of America convention


“Our hearts break for the families of those killed and injured at the Tree of Life Synagogue, and for the entire Jewish community of Pittsburgh. This is likely the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States. We are actively engaged with law enforcement to support their investigation and call on authorities to investigate this as a hate crime.

“It is simply unconscionable for Jews to be targeted during worship on a Sabbath morning, and unthinkable that it would happen in the United States of America in this day and age. Unfortunately, this violent attack – the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in the United States since 2014 – occurs at time when ADL has reported a historic increase in both anti-Semitic incidents and anti-Semitic online harassment . As we mourn those lost and search for answers, ADL will remain steadfast in its mission to fight anti-Semitism wherever and whenever it may occur.”

— Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League


“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.”

— Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf


“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.”

— Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro


“Senior prosecutors and detectives from our office have been monitoring this atrocity since the first reports. A deputy district attorney is on site and is coordinating the prosecution of this individual under state laws involving murder and federal laws involving domestic terrorism.

District Attorney Zappala has been in touch with United States Attorney Scott Brady and as this progresses, they will work together to determine the appropriate forum in which to address these crimes.

As we always do, we want to allow the families and survivors of this heinous and abhorrent act, and the Jewish Community of Pittsburgh, the time they need to grieve their loss.

During this time, the investigation, led by the FBI, will continue and as we did following the murders committed by Richard Baumhammers, we will have a process evaluating the safety and potential vulnerabilities of synagogues, churches and schools. To that end, we have already reached out to leaders of the Jewish community as well as other leaders in the religious and educational community.”

— Stephen A. Zappala, Allegheny County District Attorney


“As we are all devastated by this morning’s massacre at Tree of Life Congregation, my heart and my prayers are especially lifted up for our Jewish sisters and brothers and the law enforcement officers who rushed into harm’s way. The relationship between Tree of Life and the Diocese of Pittsburgh has been close over many years.

“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.

— David Zubik, bishop of Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh


“Words cannot adequately express my sorrow at this morning’s horrific massacre at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. I am absolutely heartbroken at yet another senseless act of gun violence perpetrated on holy ground. My prayers, and those of the entire Catholic community in the Diocese of Greensburg, go out to the people who were killed and those who were injured, including the first responders who risked their lives trying to save others. We will also pray for the loved ones of these victims and for all of our brothers and sisters in the Jewish community.

People of faith should be able to worship God in peace and security. Our sacred places should be free of all violence. May we find a way to respect the lives of one another without resorting to such brutality. We will continue to work for an end to hatred and bigotry of any kind.”

Diocese of Greensburg Bishop Edward C. Malesic


“The shooter’s attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue is pure evil,” said Congressman Rothfus. “I condemn this vile action and hope that justice is brought swiftly to the perpetrator. Elsie and I pray for everyone affected by this incomprehensible act. The psalms tell us that ‘The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.’ Today, we stand united with the brokenhearted Jewish community of Pittsburgh. Today we are all brokenhearted.”

— Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Sewickley

“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.”

— Duquesne President Ken Gormley


“Today, murderous anti-Semitism has reached our borders, and the State of Israel stands with the Jewish community of Pittsburgh, shoulder to shoulder.”

— Ambassador Dani Dayan, Consul General of Israel in New York


“Our hearts go out to the Jewish community in Pittsburgh, the first responders who put themselves in harm’s way to save lives, and all those affected by this senseless act of gun violence. No American should be afraid to worship. No community should be shattered by such bigotry. As a nation, we must elect leaders who will fight for common-sense gun laws. And we must speak out against anti-Semitism and all those who enable it.”

— Tom Perez, chair of the Democratic National Committee

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