STATEMENT CONDEMNING ANTI-SEMITIC HATE CRIME AGAINST TREE OF LIFE SYNAGOGUE ON OCTOBER 27, 2018
Published: October 28, 2018
The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater El Paso and Las Cruces (JCRC) strongly condemns the horrific and violent hate crime that took place this morning at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. During Saturday morning Shabbat services, a gunman armed with an assault rifle burst into the synagogue shouting anti-Semitic statements and opened fire killing eleven people and injuring six others, including four police officers responding to the gunfire. The attacker Robert Bowers, a 46-year-old white supremacist with a long history of making virulently anti-Semitic statements online, was wounded and taken into custody after a gun battle with police.
Robert Jones, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Pittsburgh field office, stated: “This is the most horrific crime scene I’ve seen in 22 years with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Members of the Tree of Life synagogue conducting a peaceful service in their place of worship were brutally murdered by a gunman targeting them simply because of their faith.” Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the shooting “reprehensible and utterly repugnant to the values of this nation,” and stated “the Department of Justice will file hate crimes and other criminal charges against the defendant, including charges that could lead to the death penalty.”
The peace of Shabbat was shattered and innocent lives tragically lost with a crime of unspeakable hatred against humanity. Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Pittsburgh Jewish community. All of us stand with our brothers and sisters there, especially with the friends and families of the eleven innocent people killed and the six others seriously injured in what the Anti-Defamation League is calling "likely the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States.” In the face of this senseless act of hate-motivated violence, we hereby reaffirm our strong, unwavering and unconditional opposition to any and all hate crimes against humanity. We also call for the strict and swift punishment of the perpetrator to the fullest extent of the law.
We wish to join the many others who have expressed gratitude for the actions of the Pittsburgh Police Department and the other first responders whose swift intervention prevented even greater carnage. We urge all public officials and law enforcement, including those in El Paso and Las Cruces, to continue to take the threat of violent hate crimes seriously and to spare no effort in preventing and stopping would-be perpetrators.
May the memories of those whose lives were lost in Pittsburgh this morning be a blessing to us all and may the injured be swiftly healed.
David Kern, Chair
Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater El Paso and Las Cruces
Janet Wechter, President
Jewish Federation of Greater El Paso and Las Cruces
To read our previous statements click here