PITTSBURGH -- Shouting anti-Semitic slurs, a man opened fire in a Pittsburgh synagogue Saturday morning, killing at least 11 people and wounding several others, city officials said. President Donald Trump described the shooting as a "wicked act of mass murder" that was "pure evil."
WHAT THEY SAID
U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn.
"I am heartbroken by the news of a shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. While I continue to monitor this tragedy, I send my prayers to the Tree of Life Synagogue and the surrounding community."
Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke
"This morning's act of hate is horrifying. Every Shabbat is the holiest day of the year for Jews. It's time to speak out and act; we can never accept anti-semitism or mass shootings in our society #PittsburghSynagogue"
Jonathan Greenblatt, Anti-Defamation League Southeast
"We are devastated. Jews targeted on Shabbat morning at synagogue, a holy place of worship, is unconscionable. Our hearts break for the victims, their families, and the entire Jewish community."
Phil Bredesen, Tennessee candidate for U.S. Senate
"Seeing the reports coming out of Pittsburgh is heartbreaking, particularly because this seems to be happening more and more. At a prayer breakfast in Memphis this morning, I was reminded once again of how important it is for us to come together and focus on what unites us, rather than what divides us."
Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee candidate for U.S. Senate
"My heart breaks for the families who lost loved ones during the horrific events at the Tree of Life Synagogue. Thank you to law enforcement who acted quickly to apprehend the shooter. These anti-Semitic acts of evil have no place in society & I am praying for all those affected."
Stacey Abrams, candidate for Georgia governor
"My heart grieves for the entire Jewish community and is with Pittsburgh today, including the brave law enforcement officers who responded to today's shooting with such courage and professionalism. Houses of worship should be safe spaces for our communities, our faith, and our families. All Americans of good conscience must call out this vile act for exactly what it is – vicious anti-Semitism stoked by hateful rhetoric. Our Jewish neighbors are our friends, our community members, and our sisters and brothers. Our enemies should know that we will stand by them and support them and protect them no matter the cost.
"As the flames of such hate have increasingly threatened our country and our loved ones, we as leaders have an obligation to combat such ideology and take an immovable stance against violence that targets anyone for how they pray, what they look like, where they're from, or who they love. We must also commit ourselves to finding common-sense solutions to end gun violence and ensure our right to safe communities. Our lives – and the future of our country – depend on it."
"It's a very horrific crime scene," said Wendell D. Hissrich, Pittsburgh's public safety director, adding that federal authorities were investigating the mass shooting as a hate crime. "It's one of the worst that I've seen, and I've been on some plane crashes. It's very bad."
Saturday's mass shooting came just 10 days before a bitterly fought national midterm election that has divided the country and set Americans on edge, and in a week in which more than a dozen pipe bombs were mailed to critics of Trump.
Trump later addressed reporters at Joint Base Andrews, saying "It's a terrible, terrible thing what's going on with hate in our country and frankly all over the world, and something has to be done."
"The results are very devastating," he said.
Anti-Semitism appeared to run deep for Bowers. Before it was deleted Saturday morning, a social media account believed to belong to him was filled with anti-Jewish slurs and references to anti-Jewish conspiracy theories.
In January, an account under his name was created on Gab, a social network that bills itself as a free speech haven. The app, which grew out of claims of anti-conservative bias by Facebook and Twitter, is a popular gathering place for alt-right activists and white nationalists whose views are unwelcome on other social media platforms.
Several weeks ago, Bowers' account posted a link to the website of HIAS, a Jewish nonprofit organization, which was planning a shabbat ceremony for refugees in locations around the country. The caption read: "Why hello there HIAS! You like to bring in hostile invaders to dwell among us?"
And hours before the gunman entered the Tree of Life synagogue, the account posted again: "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 said in a statement on Saturday: "There are no words to express how devastated we are by the events in Pittsburgh this morning."
At Joint Base Andrews, Trump said that if the temple "had some kind of protection" that "it could have been a much different situation."