A gunman faces 29 charges of violent crimes after opening fire during a baby-naming ceremony at a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday, killing 11 people and injuring six in the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in recent US history.
The shooter — identified as a 46-year-old Robert Bowers — reportedly yelled “All Jews must die” as he burst into the Tree of Life synagogue, where congregants gathered for Sabbath services.
Taken into custody after a shootout with police, the suspect was transferred to a hospital.
US prosecutors subsequently charged him with 29 counts of federal crimes, including 11 counts of using a firearm to commit murder and 11 counts of obstructing the exercise of religion resulting in death.
“The crimes of violence are based upon the federal civil rights laws prohibiting hate crimes,” a statement said. Authorities have said Bowers’ charges could carry the death penalty.
President Donald Trump denounced “a wicked act of mass murder,” while his daughter Ivanka, a convert to Judaism, declared: “America is stronger than the acts of a depraved bigot and anti-Semite.”
“This evil anti-Semitic attack is an assault on all of us,” Trump told supporters at an election rally in Illinois where he drew loud cheers as he vowed to fully enforce the death penalty for such crimes.
We must stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters to defeat anti-Semitism and vanquish the forces of hate.”
Trump said he would soon travel to Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, where hundreds held a candlelit vigil late Saturday.
The president ordered all flags at the White House and at public grounds, military posts and naval stations to be flown at half-staff through October 31 as a mark of “solemn respect” for the victims.