A GoFundMe page has raised more than $100,000 to help the families of victims in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Tree of Life synagogue mass shooting.
“This fundraiser is meant to help the congregation with the physical damages to the building, as well as the survivors and the victims’ families. Respond to this hateful act with your act of love today,” the GoFundMe page reads in part. “All funds raised will directly go to the Tree of Life Congregation from GoFundMe, and there is no third party intermediary.”
Daniel Stein, a new grandfather described as beloved family man, was the first deceased victim to be named. You can read tributes to the victims here.
Katherine Cichy, a spokeswoman for GoFundme, told Heavy of the GoFundMe account: “Yes, it’s verified. This is a certified charity campaign, which means all money raised will be transferred directly to the Tree of Life Congregation.”
If you’re uncomfortable giving through GoFundMe, you could donation directly to the congregation here.
People filled the page with sympathy for the victims and synagogue community. Wrote one woman, “Love needs to be louder than hate. Together we are stronger.”
“Thinking of the parents and grandparents who won’t ever come home. Lives snuffed out by anti-semitism,” lamented a man who donated.
Shay Khatiri is listed as starting the GoFundMe page. His Facebook page states that he is a Data Analyst at C&O Resources who studies Strategic Studies at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies | SAIS and lives in Washington, District of Columbia.
What is known about the victims?
Authorities Say 17 People Were Wounded & 11 of Those People Have Died
The fatality count stood at 11 people who lost their lives. In addition, another six people were injured. Authorities say they will name the victims on the morning of October 28, 2018.
According to CNN, the wounded but living victims are: A 61-year-old woman; a 70-year-old man; and four male law enforcement officers. Two of them are ages 55 and 27. One of the officers and the 70-year-old man were in critical condition in the early evening of October 27, 2018.
The synagogue’s about us section explains, “Tree of Life Congregation was founded more than 150 years ago, Or L’Simcha about 5 years ago. In 2010, the two Pittsburgh congregations merged to form Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha.
As a conservative Jewish congregation, Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha remains true to traditional teachings, yet is also progressive and relevant to the way we live today. From our warm, inviting and intellectually stimulating atmosphere to our fun adult, children and family programs, it’s the perfect environment to grow a strong faith rooted in tradition.”
The man accused of perpetrating the mass shooting is named Robert Bowers, 46, of Pennsylvania. He is alive and in custody; he allegedly left behind a trail of anti-Semitic writings on a social media site called Gab.
Just minutes before the shooting, the Pennsylvania man allegedly wrote on his Gab page, “HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.” (CNN says that post was made about 5 minutes before the mass shooting.) Authorities say he did just that, shooting multiple people, including four responding officers, in the nation’s latest horrific mass shooting. HIAS is a Hebrew immigrant aid group.
Gab is a social media network that positions itself as an alternative to Twitter and Facebook because it champions free speech. Bowers is in custody; he has gunshot wounds and is in fair condition, authorities said.
Three days ago, Robert Bowers, who also goes by the name Rob Bowers, wrote on the Gab account, “Daily Reminder: Diversity means chasing down the last white person.” His profile picture on Gab, where he’s had an account since January 2018, reads, “jews are the children of satan. (john 8:44) — —- the lord jesus christ is come in the flesh.” He also posted about weaponry. One post showing off guns included the phrase “my glock family.”
He shared, 17 days ago, the website of HIAS, which included a graphic of the “National Refugee Shabbat, a project of HIAS.”
He wrote, “Why hello there HIAS! You like to bring in hostile invaders to dwell among us? We appreciate the list of friends you have provided.” He then shared a link to a HIAS list of congregations. He also indicated support for Holocaust denial and referred to “oven dodgers” in one post.
The website of HIAS describes it as an organization that was “founded in 1881 originally to assist Jews fleeing pogroms in Russia and Eastern Europe, HIAS has touched the life of nearly every Jewish family in America and now welcomes all who have fled persecution.”
You can read more about the mass shooting here.