On Saturday, a man armed with three handguns and what is believed to be an altered AR-15 carried out the deadliest attack against Jewish people in America at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Eleven people were killed, most of whom were predominantly elderly regulars of Shabbat services, including three women, one 97 years old, and eight men, two of which were brothers.
The gunman was shouting anti-Semitic slurs at people while he was in the synagogue, leading authorities to believe this was a hate crime and that the gunman specifically targeted the Jewish community. When the police arrived, the gunman shot at them as well. SWAT officers ultimately were able to apprehend the suspect alive. In addition to the 11 people killed, several police officers were injured in this exchange of gun fire. The FBI special agent in charge described the aftermath this way, “This is the most horrific crime scene I’ve seen in 22 years with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
The eleven people were pillars of their community, 97-year-old Rose Mallinger was said to have not missed a service in decades; Jerry Rabinowitz, 66, was described as a pioneer in treating HIV in Pittsburgh during the AIDS crisis including holding patients hands without gloves; Melvin Wax, 88, attended every Friday and Saturday service and was known to even lead the service when needed.
This event is part of a larger increase in hate crimes across the country against the Jewish community and other minority groups. The Anti-Defamation League found a 57 percent increase in hate crimes towards the Jewish community in 2017 compared to the previous year.
They are not the only community being targeted. On October 24th a white gunman, allegedly motivated by racial hatred, entered a Kroger grocery store in Kentucky and killed Black shoppers Maurice Stallard and Vickie Jones. The attack at Kroger was after the gunman was unable to enter a predominantly Black church due to their security measures of locking all doors. Federal law enforcement is investigating the incident as a potential hate crime.
On Friday, a 57 year old man in Florida mailed at least 14 bombs to CNN and prominent Democratic officials and donors. These bombs are assumed to have been live bombs but no one was injured.
Media resources: Washington Post 10/27/18, Washington Post 10/28/18, CNN 10/28/18, CNN 10/27/18