The man who allegedly opened fire on worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue in what is likely the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in US history acted alone, authorities said. In a press conference, an official said there were multiple causalities inside, including three officers who have been shot.
Emergency services surrounded the synagogue around 2pm BST (10am local time) following the reports of an active shooter and members of the public were urged to avoid the area.
Jones said the scene of todays shooting at the Tree of Life Congregation was "the most horrific crime scene I have seen" in 22 years with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
He said that any motive remains unknown but that authorities believe he was acting alone.
Michael Eisenberg, the immediate past president of the Tree of Life congregation, said three congregations - Tree of Life, New Light and Dor Hadash - would have been holding simultaneous services in the building on a typical Saturday.
"Unfortunately, this violent attack. occurs at a time when ADL has reported a historic increase in both anti-Semitic incidents and anti-Semitic online harassment", a statement from the organization said.
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Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the attack on Pittsburgh's Tree of Life synagogue Saturday. The tree-lined residential neighborhood of Squirrel Hill, about 10 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh, is the hub of Pittsburgh's Jewish community. Police said they received calls from people who were barricaded inside the building, KDKA reports. The Tree of Life congregation would have about 40 people present, another group meeting for Sabbath services in the basement would have 30 to 40 people and a third Jewish congregation meeting for a study session would have about 15 people. It was not immediately known how many people had been shot or killed. Another post that Bowers commented on described HIAS' overall efforts as "sugar-coated evil". He was taken to a hospital for treatment of undisclosed injuries, authorities said.
Bowers had not been charged as of Saturday afternoon.
A law enforcement official told CNN that the suspect made anti-semitic remarks after his arrest. The suspect retreated back inside the synagogue as additional units from the city and county arrived on the scene.
"It is imperative that the neighbors in the community surrounding the Tree of Life synagogue stay in their houses and shelter in place", Pittsburgh Police Cmdr. He advised people who live near the site of shooting to remain in doors until the area is announced secure.
"If they had some kind of a protection inside the temple maybe it could have been a much more different situation, they didn't", he said when asked about a possible link to United States gun laws.
"Our nation and the world are shocked and stunned by the grief".
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