PITTSBURGH (Reuters) – Some 2,500 people gathered on Sunday at a memorial service for the 11 Jewish worshipers killed in their Pittsburgh synagogue during Saturday prayers, a mass murder that the mayor called the city's "darkest hour" while exhorting those who mourn to "defeat hate with love"
Several speakers addressing an overwhelmed crowd at the Soldiers and Sailors Hall of the University of Pittsburgh raised issues of inclusion and unity, against the increase in toxic political discourse that is considered to be creates an environment conducive to violence.
"What happened yesterday will not break us." It will not ruin us. We will continue to thrive, sing, worship and learn together and continue our historic legacy in the city with the kindest people I know, "Rabbi Jonathan Perlman told the interreligious audience.
Three members of his congregation were among the dead when a man armed with an assault rifle and three handguns on Saturday stormed the Temple of the Tree of Life in the neighborhood of the great Jewish squirrel hill of the city shouting "All Jews must die "opened fire on the faithful.
In addition to the 11 mostly elderly victims who died, six people, including four policemen, were injured before the suspect He was arrested and two of the surviving victims remained hospitalized in critical condition.
The massacre marked the deadliest attack in the Jewish community United States, according to the Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.
Robert Bowers, 46, who has a history of publishing anti-Semitic messages online, has been charged under the federal statutes of hate crimes and could face the death penalty if convicted.
'DEFEAT HATE WITH LOVE'
"This is the darkest hour in the history of our city," Mayor Bill Peduto said during Sunday's service. "But here's another thing about Pittsburgh, we're resilient, we're going to work together as one, we'll defeat hate with love." We will be a compassionate city and we will welcome all people, "he said to cheers.
The auditorium of the Soldiers and Sailors Room, a place with capacity for more than 2,300 people, was filled to capacity with hundreds more people gathered outside the building.
The names of the dead were released hours earlier, including David Rosenthal, 54, his brother Cecil Rosenthal, 59, Sylvan Simon, 86, and his wife Bernice Simon, 84, Joyce Fienberg, 75; Gottfried, 65, Jerry Rabinowitz, 66, Daniel Stein, 71, Melvin Wax, 88, and Irving Younger, 69. The oldest victim was Rose Mallinger, 97.
between five of the dead who lived in Squirrel Hill, a quiet and leafy district with a large Jewish population. The community was also home to the late Fred Rogers, whose long-running children's television program "Mr. El Barrio de Rogers" included lessons on friendship and kindness.
The remaining victims were from other parts of Pittsburgh, the second largest city in Pennsylvania after Philadelphia.
The mass shooting triggered security alerts in places of worship across the country and condemnation of politicians and religious leaders.
Some complained that the confrontational nationalist rhetoric of US President Donald Trump encouraged right-wing extremists and fueled an increase in the activity of the hate groups.
Trump, who quickly called Saturday's shootings an act of sheer evil and called on Americans to overcome hatred, was already facing similar criticism before the November 6 legislative elections after a series of bombs sent by mail Last week to some of its most prominent critics. The objectives, mostly Democratic, included the former president of the United States, Barack Obama.
"Honestly, I think the whole modus operandi of this president is to divide us, he gets up in the morning with new and inventive ways to divide us," said US Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat who is Jewish, in the broadcast of "State of the Union "of CNN on Sunday.
Trump told reporters that the killings could have been avoided if there had been an armed guard. The synagogue officials said that the police would only have been present for security reasons on holidays
U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen said on Fox News on Sunday that federal officials visited the Pittsburgh synagogue in March to provide training on the responses of the active shooters
The mayor He said on Sunday that keeping guns out of reach of irrational people was a better way to prevent violence.
FBI Special Agent Robert Jones told a news conference that he did not know why Bowers had attacked the Tree of Life synagogue.
Authorities believe the suspect entered the synagogue, opened fire on the faithful and fled when he encountered a police officer, Jones said. The two exchanged gunshots, he said, and Bowers re-entered the building before a tactical police squad arrived.
Bowers surrendered and was taken to a hospital where he was in regular condition with multiple gunshot wounds.
Federal prosecutors indicted Bowers late on Saturday of 29 criminal charges, including violation of United States civil rights laws.
Bowers' virulent and anti-Semitic views were evident in prolific online publications. In one of them, early Saturday, he wrote that a group of Jewish refugees, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, "like to attract invaders who kill our people. I can not sit down and watch how they kill my people. Screw in your optics, I'm going in. "
He plans to appear for the first time in court on Monday afternoon before a federal judge in Pittsburgh.
Additional reports by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago, Doina Chiacu and Susan Cornwell in Washington, and Rich McKay in Atlanta, Written by Meredith Mazzilli in New York and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; by Daniel Wallis, David Gregorio and Cynthia Osterman.