Synagogue Shooter Exploited a 'Vulnerability'

Door was unlocked on Saturdays only at Tree of Life synagogue
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 28, 2018 6:48 AM CDT
Synagogue Shooting Was Deadliest Attack Ever on US Jews
Nancy Clark of Squirrel Hill, reads from the Tehillim, as police lights flash and rain soaks the pages, yards away from Tree of Life Congregation, on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018, in the Squirrel Hill section of Pittsburgh.   (Andrew Stein/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)

The Anti-Defamation League says the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh is thought to be the deadliest attack specifically targeting Jews ever in the US—by far. CNN reports the previous attack to have that label occurred in 1985, when Seattle lawyer Charles Goldmark, his wife, and two sons were killed. (The Washington Post notes it "was actually a case of mistaken religious identity," as the family was not Jewish.) The toll in Saturday's shooting stands at 11. The AP reports police on Sunday said the victims were eight men and three women. In an arrest affidavit made public, police say that while treating alleged shooter Robert Gregory Bowers for injuries he sustained after being shot by police, he said Jews were "committing genocide to his people" and that he wanted them all to die.

The AP separately reports on a "vulnerability" the shooter took advantage of: an unlocked door. While the Tree of Life synagogue required guests to ring a bell to gain access during the week, on the Jewish Sabbath the building was open to all guests for Shabbat services. The Post quotes the FBI special agent in charge as saying it was "the most horrific crime scene I’ve seen in 22 years." Federal hate crime charges were filed against Bowers on Saturday: 29 charges in all, including 11 counts of using a firearm to commit murder. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports Pittsburgh police also filed charges on Saturday: 11 counts of criminal homicide, six counts of attempted homicide, six counts of aggravated assault, and 13 counts of ethnic intimidation. (Read what President Trump had to say about the shooting here.)

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