An active shooter at the Squirrel Hill Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania made comments about wanting all Jews to die, according to police dispatch audio. Witnesses confirmed to KDKA-TV that the suspect, identified as 46-year-old Robert Bowers, said “all Jews need to die,” when he entered the synagogue.
The audio, from Broadcastify, captured officers relaying the suspect’s alleged comments to dispatch. It was not immediately clear from authorities how many people were shot or deceased. However, CBS Pittsburgh reported that at least eight people were dead. The fatality count later increased to at least 11 people.
“Suspect talking about all these Jews need to die. We’re still communicating with him,” said one officer on the dispatch audio. A short time later, another officer followed up with a similar disturbing comment.
“The suspect is talking about killing Jews. He doesn’t want any of them to live,” said another officer. One officer said the shooter claimed to be heading to his vehicle when he “engaged officers responding.”
Here’s what you need to know:
Police Confirmed There Were Multiple People Deceased
Police confirmed that there are multiple victims.
“We have multiple casualties,” Pittsburgh police confirmed in a press conference. “We have dispatched to active gunfire at the Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill.” Police asked neighbors to shelter in place.
There are more people wounded and two officers were shot, reported CBS Pittsburgh, adding that the suspect is a white male who was crawling and wounded. A Saturday service was underway at the synagogue when the mass shooting occurred.
According to dispatch audio, there was a shot officer down on the second floor, and a military style package was found. Officers referred to multiple weapons, including an AR-15. Officers were negotiating with the suspect to surrender. Scanner traffic is always preliminary and subject to change as more information comes out. Authorities have not yet formally provided details from the scene, including weaponry and any comments he may have made about Jews, because they were still clearing the building on the morning of October 27, 2018. They were referring to devices while clearing the synagogue. Authorities were flying a drone over the building to see if they could have an access point to check out a “device.”
The synagogue was described as a landmark and anchor to the neighborhood.
Reporter Myles Miller, of PIX11, noted, “For those who don’t know, Squirrel Hill is Pittsburgh’s largest Jewish neighborhood. Tree of Life * Or L’Simcha is perhaps the biggest congregation in the area.”
You can read more about the mass shooting here.