The Westfield Voice

The Student News Site of Westfield State University

The Westfield Voice

The Westfield Voice

Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting


On Oct. 27, a man opened fire and killed 11 people, injuring 7 others in the Tree of Life synagogue located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The services held in the Squirrel Hill community were scheduled to begin at 9:45 am.

The suspect who carried out the assault was Robert Gregory Bowers, 46. Bowers exchanged gunfire for 20 minutes in the synagogue before surrendering after barricading himself on the third floor.

Bowers was arrested and is being charged with 29 federal, and 36 state crimes. Charges include obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs and using a firearm to commit murder. This shooting has been identified as the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the United States in history.

Bowers has no previous criminal history. The FBI discovered his only run in with the law was a traffic violation in 2015.

It was also uncovered Bowers used an online social media network known as “Gab” to post an array of alarming statements and images, including anti-Semitic slurs surrounding the Jewish community. Bowers expressed Trump was surrounded by too many Jewish people and these were the people helping migrant caravans in Central America. Bowers also posted a picture of 21 handguns registered in his name.

According to CNN, minutes before entering the synagogue, he wrote on Gab, “Can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”

Rabbi Jefferey Myers, was in the church at the time of the shooting. He spoke to USA Today and stated, “There’s no handbook on this. There’s no one particular place to turn to say that this is what you do after this happened… We will reopen, but not for quite a while.”

A week following the incident, members of the community came together to grieve. Around 100 people gathered at the unopened synagogue for a 45 minute healing service. The service occurred after the last of the 11 victims killed in the attack were buried.

Thoughts and prayers have been sent to those directly and indirectly affected by this event. Popular television show, This Is Us takes place in Pittsburgh. At the end of Tuesday’s episode, a message was left to the viewers: “Our hearts are broken. We stand with our television hometown of Pittsburgh.” The link to a website dedicated to educating about the cease of gun violence followed.

Nurse, Ari Mahler who helped Bowers after being sent to the hospital expressed empathy for the Jewish community, but also for Bowers. Mahler belongs to the Jewish community himself.

Mahler spoke to the Chicago Tribune stating, “I didn’t say a word to him [Bowers] about my religion, I chose not to say anything to him the entire time. I wanted him to feel compassion. I chose to show him empathy. I felt that the best way to honor his victims was for a Jew to prove him wrong.”

Westfield State University sophomore, Samantha Arnott is one of many members of the Jewish faith on campus. She discussed her feelings about the incident stating, “I think that it is sad that at this day and age something like this could still happen. It makes you wonder how safe is the world we live in and especially being Jewish, after this event I feel even more unsafe.”

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