In moments like this, the aftermath of yet another mass shooting—this one targeted at a synagogue in Pittsburgh—Americans tend to turn to the president for consolation and inspiration. On Saturday, as they turn to Donald Trump, it’s unclear what they might receive from a president whose decisions in moments of crisis, especially this week, often seem off-key.
Authorities identified the alleged gunman as Robert D. Bowers, a 46-year-old Pittsburgh resident, and said he entered the Tree of Life synagogue in the city’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood and opened fire during Shabbat services shortly before 10 a.m. Police told local media he shouted, “All Jews must die.” He was not known to law enforcement prior to the shootings.
Wendell Hissrich, Pittsburgh’s public-safety director, confirmed Saturday afternoon that 11 people were killed. Six were injured, including four police officers, all in stable condition. Two of the four officers were first on the scene. Officers first engaged with Bowers as he was leaving the synagogue; he then went back inside to evade police. He was soon shot by police multiple times, taken into custody, and ultimately hospitalized; he remains in fair condition.
“This is the most horrific crime scene I’ve seen in 22 years with the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” Bob Jones, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Pittsburgh office, told reporters at an afternoon news conference. “Members of the Tree of Life synagogue, conducting a peaceful service in their place of worship, were brutally murdered by a gunman targeting them simply because of their faith. The suspect’s full motive is unknown. But we believe he was acting alone.”