Trump to visit and grieve with Pittsburgh community after the synagogue mass shooting

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Pittsburgh synagogue mass shooting
Photo credits: AP/Matt Rourke

President Donald Trump will travel to Pennsylvania on Tuesday following the synagogue mass shooting in Pittsburgh. First Lady Melania Trump will accompany the president to express their grief and support to the Jewish community in the area.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders announced Trump’s plan to grieve with the Pittsburgh community on Monday. She started the press briefing with a statement denouncing the mass shooting inside the Tree of Life Synagogue.

Sanders said, “This atrocity was a chilling act of mass murder, it was an act of hatred, and above all, it was an act of evil. Anti-Semitism is a plague to humanity and it is responsible for many of the worst horrors in human history…”

Additionally, she emphasized, “The President cherishes the American Jewish community for everything it stands for and contributes to our country. He adores Jewish Americans as part of his own family. The President is the grandfather of several Jewish grandchildren. His daughter is a Jewish American and his son-in-law is a descendant of holocaust survivors.”

“Tomorrow, the President and First Lady will travel to Pennsylvania to express the support of the American people and grieve with the Pittsburgh community,” she added.

Some Pittsburgh Jewish leaders say Trump is not welcome

The Jewish community has a mixed response to Trump’s plan to visit. The leaders of a liberal Jewish group in Pittsburg wrote an open letter to the President saying he was not welcome until he has “fully denounce white nationalism.”

“Our Jewish community is not the only group you have targeted.  You have also deliberately undermined the safety of people of color, Muslims, LGBTQ people, and people with disabilities. Yesterday’s massacre is not the first act of terror you incited against a minority group in our country,” according to the leaders of Bend the Arc: a Jewish partnership for justice.

On the other hand, Rabbi Jeffrey Myers of the Tree of Life Synagogue said the President is welcome. According to him, “It would be my honor to always meet a president of the United States,” during an interview with NBC.

Pittsburgh synagogue shooter said “I just want to kill Jews”

The shooter identified as Robert Gregory Bowers expressed hatred against Jewish people while shooting inside the Tree of Life Synagogue. He killed 11 people and injured six others including law enforcement officers on Saturday.

According to the criminal complaint filed against Bowers, he repeatedly stated his desire to kill Jewish people during the course of his deadly shooting and gunfight with responding officers. He told one law enforcement officer, “They’re committing genocide to my people. I just want to kill Jews.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania charged Bowers with 29 counts of federal crimes of violence and firearms offenses.

On Monday, Bowers briefly appeared at a federal court to face the charges against him.

After the hearing, U.S. Attorney Scott Brady issued a statement. He said, “On Saturday, October 27, 2018, my office charged Robert Bowers with federal murder and assault charges relative to the horrific acts of violence he committed at the Tree of Life synagogue. Today, Robert Bowers made his first appearance in federal court. The Judge advised him of the charges against him. He is detained in jail, without bond.”

In addition, Brady stated, “Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the victims’ families and with the community.  Rest assured, we have a team of prosecutors working hard to ensure that justice is done.”