Police in Pittsburgh surrounded the Tree of Life synagogue after reports emerged that an active shooter had opened fire in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood.
A call between a police dispatcher and a patrol officer on the scene reveals the initial police efforts to gather details about the shooter, as well as their efforts to safety free what appeared to be multiple hostages.
Authorities said that just before 10 a.m., a suspect had entered the synagogue with an assault-style rifle and three handguns.
The following is a recording of the dispatch audio that has since been released by authorities.
Patrol: “Patrol at the front door, we gotta evacuate some of these hostages.”
Dispatch: “Received, request for patrol at the front door. Evacuating hostages.”
Patrol: “We have a spent magazine, looks like a high powered AK, middle hallway of the 1-4 corner.”
Patrol: “I have a description.”
Dispatch: “Go ahead, send it.”
Patrol: “Tall white male, short hair, light blue shirt, jeans. Again that’s tall white male, short hair, light blue shirt, jeans.”
Patrol: “I got one alive.”
Patrol: “We’re evacuating one right now, still alive. We have at least four down in the atrium. DOA at this time.”
Dispatch: “Was there earlier intel that he may be in the basement?”
Patrol: “I had a report of at least one victim in the basement.”
Patrol: “I have an additional four victims, four victims in the back of the atrium hall, total 8 down. One rescued at this time.”
Dispatch: “What’s your status in the basement?”
Patrol: “We’re probably at the bottom of the stairwell cleared to the left. Working room to the right, we have rifle cases in here with blood.”
In a statement on the horrific shooting, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said:
“I want to thank the FBI, ATF, Pittsburgh police, and especially the heroic officers who were so quick to respond to the shooting, including the multiple officers who were shot.
“These officers ran to danger to save others, which reflects the highest traditions of policing in this country. There can be no doubt that they saved lives today.”
Suspect Robert Bowers
The suspect of Pittsburgh shooting has been identified as 46-year-old Robert Bowers of Castle Shannon, Pennsylvania. Bowers has been arrested and hospitalized.
The full motive for the shooting is still unclear at this time, although a police source told KDKA that the suspect had walked into the synagogue yelling “All Jews must die” before he opened fire.
Bowers also appears to have been active on the social media website Gab, which is popular with people who have been banned or censored from other social media sites. Bowers’ Gab profile said, “Jews are the children of Satan.”
Less than an hour before the shooting spree, Bowers posted on the website, saying: “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.”
HIAS is a nonprofit that describes itself as “helping refugees rebuild their lives in safety and sanity.”
Bowers also made or shared multiple anti-President Donald Trump posts. In one, he called Trump a “globalist” and said that Trump was not “winning.” In a comment on another, he said: “For the record, I did not vote for him.”
Browsing through the Pittsburgh Synagogue shooter's social media uncovered by @nickmon1112 https://t.co/45dcoEzWiZ
Anti-Trump, anti MAGA, jew hater, anti Qanon, anti refugees, white supremacist… pic.twitter.com/aEnW0JrKBe
— Reliable / Unreliable (@Narrat_o_r) October 27, 2018
Following the horrific shooting, President Trump told the media: “It’s a terrible thing what’s going on with hate in our country.”
The President said that in his view, the country needed to stiffen up the law and bring back the death penalty for those responsible for killing innocent lives in similar crimes. “They should pay the ultimate price,” Trump said.
Trump added: “They didn’t have protection. They had a maniac walk in and they didn’t have any protection.”
“If they had protection inside, the results would have been far better. If they had some kind of protection inside the temple, maybe it could have been a very much different situation.”
Events in Pittsburgh are far more devastating than originally thought. Spoke with Mayor and Governor to inform them that the Federal Government has been, and will be, with them all the way. I will speak to the media shortly and make further statement at Future Farmers of America.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 27, 2018
Trump made the comments at Andrews Air Force Base before traveling to Indianapolis. He told reporters that the violence “has to stop.”
BREAKING: President Trump orders flags to be flown at half-staff on federal buildings pic.twitter.com/6SdEuWzZcW
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) October 28, 2018
Israel is expressing its shock and concern and offering assistance to the local community following the shooting.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has condemned the attack.
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) October 27, 2018
“I was heartbroken and appalled by the murderous attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue today,” Netanyahu said in a video message posted on Twitter shortly after the attack, which has killed at least two people and injured six.
Netanyahu says all of Israel is grieving with the families of the dead.
“We stand together with the Jewish community of Pittsburgh. We stand together with the American people in the face of this horrendous anti-Semitic brutality. And we all pray for the speedy recovery of the wounded,” he added.
Netanyahu posted the same message in Hebrew on Twitter minutes later.
Charlotte Cuthbertson, Allen Zhong, and Zachary Stieber from The Epoch Times, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.