Sunday, October 28, 2018

Tree of Life Mass Shooting

"People are nice to each other in Squirrel Hill. For crying out loud, it was literally Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood. We had a mass murder in Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood." Boston Globe 

The Incident
The Victims
The Suspect
The Location
Squirrel Hill
Jewish Population


The Incident

A gunman screaming “All Jews must die!” burst into a Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood synagogue during Sabbath services, shooting and killing at least 11 people and wounding a half-dozen more, including four police officers, before surrendering.

The conservative Tree of Life Synagogue had been packed with three separate congregations attending Saturday morning, October 27, 2018, services when the bloodbath began at around 10 a.m.

The 11 victims of the shooting range from 54 to 97 and include a married couple and two brothers. They were gunned down by a man shouting anti-Semitic comments and carrying an AR-15 assault rifle as they attended a baby-naming ceremony at the Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill on Saturday.

The Victims

Dr, Karl Williams, chief medical examiner of Allegheny County, said the 11 people were identified late Saturday and their next of kin notified.

They include Joyce Feinberg, 75, of Oakland; Richard Gottfried, 65, of Ross Township; Rose Malinger, 97, of Squirrel Hill; Jerry Rabinowitz, 66, of Edgewood; Cecil Rosenthal, 59, of Squirrel Hill; David Rosenthal, 54, of Squirrel Hill; Bernice Simon, 84, of Wilkinsburg; Sylvan Simon, 86, of Wilkingsburg; Daniel Stein, 71, of Squirrel Hill; Melvin Wax, 88, of Squirrel Hill, and Irving Youngner, 69, of Mount Washington.

The Simons were married and the Rosenthals were brothers.

Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Josh Shapiro said the shooting happened during the portion of the ceremony when the child is given a Hebrew name.

The “shooter claimed innocent lives — and injured first responders — at a baby naming,” Shapiro said.


The Suspect

The suspect — identified as 46-year-old Robert Bowers, a bearded, heavy-set resident of Pittsburgh — was armed with an AR-15-style assault rifle and three Glock handguns, according to multiple reports.

The mass shooting occurred at Tree of Life – Or L'Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on October 27, 2018. The shooting took place during three scheduled Shabbat morning services, one of which was reportedly a brit milah, a Jewish circumcision and naming ceremony for eight-day-old boys. A member of the Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh told reporters that between 60 and 100 people were inside the building at the time of the incident.

The suspect was identified by local authorities as Robert D. Bowers (46), a resident of Baldwin, Pennsylvania. He was taken into police custody after the shooting and sent to a hospital. 

Bowers' social media profile was registered in January 2018 under the handle, "onedingo" with the description, "jews are the children of satan. (john 8:44) --- --- the lord jesus christ is come in the flesh". The cover picture was a photo with the number 1488 — used by neo-Nazis and white supremacists to evoke David Lane's "Fourteen Words" slogan and the Nazi slogan Heil Hitler. Bowers had published one post that referenced the white genocide conspiracy theory. He also reposted content by other anti-Semitic, neo-Nazi, and Holocaust-denying users, and criticized President Donald Trump for being a "globalist, not a nationalist" and for supposedly being controlled by Jews. After the shooting, Gab deleted Bowers' profile.

A month before the attack, Bowers posted photos showing the results of his target practice, and a photo of his three handguns. In the post, he identified the .357-caliber handguns as Glock 31, Glock 32, and Glock 33.

Bowers reportedly made anti-Semitic posts directed at the HIAS National Refugee Shabbat in the weeks before the shooting.

Shortly before the attack, in an apparent reference to immigrants to the United States, Bowers posted on Gab that "HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can't sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I'm going in".


The Location

The location is 42 miles down river from the Kittanning Citizens Bridge used as the stand-in for the Silver Bridge in the 2002 movie, The Mothman Prophecies. As noted in Mothman: Evil Incarnate (2017), the sinister nature of this location is well-documented.
Pittsburgh is "the City of Bridges". . . Constantine the Great received his vision of the cross on October 27th, prior to his victory at the Milvian Bridge. . . pontiff originally meant "bridge builder" shooting date appropriate for the Saturday vs Sunday debate. . . Pope Francis' birthday 51 days after massacre, "Rome"=51, 2018 is 51 years after the Six Day War. . Pope Francis' 80th birthday was 51 days before Super Bowl 51 (end date inclusive)/ shooting 137 days before Pope Francis' 6th anniversary as pontiff. . . 137 is the 33rd prime number. Pope's birthday on the 351st day of the year, "Catholic"=351, Satanic gematria. ~ RCW
The McKees Rocks Mound, located at the confluence of Chartiers Creek and the Ohio River four miles south of downtown Pittsburgh, is just one of thousands of Indian burial mounds, ranging from a few feet to 100 feet tall, that were still visible in Jefferson's day throughout the Ohio-Mississippi Valley watershed. 

"At the head of Mansion Street, Glenwood, was an ancient burying ground of that aboriginal tribe known as the Mound Builders. It included several mounds, the largest being about fifteen feet in height. Their tops were rounded, and the mounds were heaped with stone." ~ Early Settlements in the Fifteenth Ward of Pittsburgh by M.S. Kussart, 1924.


Squirrel Hill

In 2010, about 40% of Squirrel Hill's residents were Jewish. According to a 2002 study by the United Jewish Federation, 33% of the Jewish population of Greater Pittsburgh lives in Squirrel Hill, and another 14% lives in the surrounding neighborhoods. The report states that: "The stability of Squirrel Hill, a geographic hub of the Jewish community located within the city limits, is unique in North America."

The name "Squirrel Hill" may have been given to the area by the Native Americans who lived in its vicinity. The neighborhood most likely was named for the abundance of gray squirrels.

The growth and development of Squirrel Hill was initially focused on the riverfront along the Monongahela River.

Around 1820, William "Killymoon" Steward built one of the first tavern/inns in the area. His tavern, located near the intersection of Beechwood and Brown's Hill Road, survived for over 100 years. Slowly, Squirrel Hill became a prosperous and affluent suburb.

Around 1840, the Murdoch family started a farm and nursery business in the part of Squirrel Hill North which is known today as Murdoch Farms. Today, this quiet area contains many upscale homes.

On December 24, 1860, protests broke out in the streets of Squirrel Hill after news arrived that the U.S. Secretary of War, John B. Floyd had ordered 124 cannons to be shipped from Allegheny Arsenal to two forts under construction in Louisiana and Texas. The inhabitants of Pittsburgh predicted that these weapons would be used against them if the South seceded, and this did indeed happen at Fort Sumter.


Jewish Population

Squirrel Hill has had a large Jewish population since the 1920s, when Eastern European Jews began to move to the neighborhood in large numbers from Oakland and the Hill District. Many of them took up residence in rows of brick houses on the cross streets of Murray Avenue south of Forbes, such as Darlington Road, Bartlett Street, and Beacon Street. The neighborhood became the center of Jewish culture in the city, with kosher butcher shops, delicatessens, Jewish restaurants, bookstores, and designer boutiques. Several hundred Russian Jewish immigrants moved to the neighborhood in the 1990s.

A 2017 study of the Greater Pittsburgh Jewish community, conducted by researchers at Brandeis University and commissioned by the local Jewish Federation, found that 26% of Pittsburg-area Jews live in Squirrel Hill, 20% live in South Hills, 9% live in North Hills, 31% live in other areas of Pittsburgh, and 14% live in other areas of the region. Although Squirrel Hill remains the traditional center of Jewish life in the region, the study found a shift to more suburban areas. The study also found an increase in the population of Jews who identify as Orthodox or secular, and a decrease in the number of Jews who identify as Conservative and Reform denominations.

All of Squirrel Hill, as well as much of the neighboring neighborhoods of Greenfield and Regent Square, is within an eruv, a symbolic enclosure that allows Orthodox Jews to push or carry items on Shabbat (the Jewish sabbath, in which no work is traditionally done). The irregular boundaries of the eruv are such that, as one writer noted, "an Orthodox Jew could carry something within the eruv's boundaries all the way from the north end of the Hot Metal Bridge to the intersection of Wilkins and South Dallas in Point Breeze."

Squirrel Hill contains three Jewish day schools: two are affiliated with the Chabad and Modern Orthodox movements, respectively, while Community Day School is a co-ed, independent Jewish day school in the neighborhood that attracts families across the wide spectrum of Jewish belief and practice.

On October 27, 2018, a gunman entered the Tree of Life synagogue and opened fire, killing at least 11 people and injuring 6 more.

Other Attacks Against Jewish Sites

Seattle Jewish Federation

The Seattle Jewish Federation shooting occurred on July 28, 2006, at around 4:00 p.m. PT, when Naveed Afzal Haq shot six women, one fatally, at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle building in the Belltown neighborhood of Seattle, Washington, United States. 

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

At about 12:50 p.m. on June 10, 2009, 88-year-old white supremacist James Wenneker von Brunn entered the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.with a rifle and fatally shot Museum Special Police Officer Stephen Tyrone Johns. Other security guards returned fire, wounding von Brunn, who was apprehended.

Overland Park Jewish Community Center

On April 13, 2014, a pair of shootings occurred at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City and Village Shalom, a Jewish retirement community, both located in Overland Park, Kansas. A total of three people were killed in the shootings, two who were shot at the community center and one who was shot at the retirement community.

The gunman, 73-year-old Frazier Glenn Miller Jr. of Aurora, Missouri, originally from North Carolina, was arrested in the attack and was subsequently tried, convicted of murder and other crimes, and sentenced to death. Miller was a Neo-Nazi and former political candidate.

Parkland High School

On February 14, 2018, at approximately 2:20 p.m. EST, a shooting occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Seventeen people died. Soon after the event in February, I felt it important to view this school shooting as having an undercurrent of antisemitic violence due to the number of Jewish students killed. (The Boston Globe also made this point in April 2018.)


According to the known, past patterns of the copycat effect, look for incidents of mass violence on the following dates, in the wake of the Squirrel Hill synagogue shooting:

Wednesday, Halloween, October 31, 2018;
Saturday, November 3, 2018; and
Saturday, November 24, 2018 - or - Tuesday, November 27, 2018.


Tom Mellett said...

Now we need Fred Rogers more than ever.

Erin O'Riordan said...

On a positive note, at least Pittsburgh's Muslim community banded together to help the survivors out in their time of mourning. It's always nice to see good people of all religions helping one another.