PITTSBURGH (BP) — Anti-Semitism spouted by the accused Pittsburgh synagogue murderer of 11 today (Oct. 27) is “a despicable lie of the enemy which we unequivocally reject,” Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear tweeted.
Police have arrested 46-year-old Robert Bowers and described the shootings as a hate crime, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. Bowers disturbed the Jewish Sabbath at the Tree of Life Synagogue and shouted, “All Jews must die,” before opening fire around 10 a.m. Eastern time.
Six injured in addition to the killings included four police officers, according to news reports.
SBC First Vice President A.B. Vines, pastor of New Seasons Church in Spring Valley, Calif., and SBC Second Vice President Felix Cabrera, lead pastor of Iglesia Bautista Central in Oklahoma City, were listed in a signature line with Greear’s tweet.
“We grieve with the city of Pittsburgh, the Jewish community, and especially the families of the victims,” wrote Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C. “In a nation seemingly full of hatred, we remain committed to demonstrating and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, pursuing religious freedom for all peoples, and praying for a more civil and loving society.”
The shooter was armed with an AR-15 and three handguns, police said in multiple media reports, and is accused of having left a trail of anti-Semitic remarks on social media accounts. Bowers was hospitalized with multiple gunshot wounds. In his social media posts, Bowers spoke ill of the HIAS National Refugee Shabbat, formerly the Hebrew Immigration Aid Society, that today helps immigrants of various nationalities.
President Donald Trump, in his first comments to media after the attack, said, “It’s a terrible, terrible thing what’s going on with hate in our country, frankly, and all over the world, and something has to be done,” CBS reported. The synagogue could have prevented the tragedy by having armed guards, Trump told the media.
“There must be no tolerance for anti-Semitism in America,” Trump said.
Trump’s daughter Ivanka, whose husband Jared Kushner is Jewish, called on “all good Americans” to “stand with the Jewish people to oppose acts of terror and share the horror, disgust and outrage over the massacre in Pittsburgh.”
“America is stronger than the acts of a depraved bigot and anti-Semite,” she said.
The crime capped a week in which a series of pipe bombs were mailed to political leaders including former President Barack Obama. The suspect in the series of bomb mailings had left a trail of anti-African American sentiment on his social media accounts, police said this week.