Robert Bowers, 46, is the suspect in 'horrific' shooting at Pittsburgh synagogue
Police have a man in custody after a shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue Saturday that has left eight dead and multiple people injured, including four police officers.
Robert Bowers, 46, has been identified as the suspect in the mass shooting, according to a law enforcement official.
Teams of armed police swarmed the Squirrel Hill neighborhood near downtown Pittsburgh just before 10 a.m. Saturday. Residents were urged to shelter in place as armed law enforcement agents canvassed the neighborhood.
Pittsburgh television station KDKA and NBC reported that eight people were killed at the Tree of Life synagogue.
At least six people were injured, including four police officers, Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said. The FBI is treating the incident as a hate crime and leading the investigation, he said.
"It’s a very horrific crime scene," said Hissrich, visibly shaken. "It's one of the worst I’ve seen."
The gunman allegedly walked into the building and yelled "All Jews must die!" before opening fire, according to KDKA-TV.
Speaking to reporters at Andrews Air Force Base, President Donald Trump praised law enforcement's response in the shooting and called the suspect in custody a "madman" and a "whacko."
He said he would like to see more armed guards at synagogues and other places of worship and impose more death penalty sentences on convicted murderers.
"It's a terrible, terrible thing what's going on with hate in our country and, frankly, all over the world," Trump said. "Something has to be done."
Posts believed to be from Bowers’ Twitter account shows pictures of several Glock pistols in their cases and deragotury remarks about refugees, Jewish people and Trump. In his last post, issued Saturday morning, Bowers criticized a refugee advocacy group who "likes to bring invadvers in that kill our people."
"I can't sit by and watch my people get slaughtered," he wrote. "Screw your optics, I'm going in."
At the scene, Pittsburgh Police Commander Jason Lando told reporters the shooting took place near the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood and they had "multiple casualties."
Squirrel Hill is a Jewish enclave near Carnegie Melon University. A little more than 50 percent of Greater Pittsburgh’s Jewish community lives in or around the neighborhood, said Jeff Finkelstein, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.
"We are working the situation," Lando said. "It is imperative that everyone in the community surrounding the Tree of Life Synagogue stay in their houses and shelter in place. Do not come out of your homes right now. It is not safe."
Tree of Life immediate past president Michael Eisenberg told KDKA-TV that there were three congregations meeting simultaneously, probably totaling around 100 people, at the time of the shooting. They were gathered in the main part of the building, as well in the basement and in the rabbi study room, he said.
The shooting occurred during a baby-naming service. Eisenberg said he spoke with a maintenance man who hid in one of the bathrooms during the shooting and witnessed a shot congregant before fleeing through an exit.
Eisenberg said he was on his way to service there when he noticed police swarming the streets.
"There were police cars everywhere, guns drawn, rifles," he told KDKA-TV. "It was surreal."
More: Trump says Pittsburgh shooting has 'little' to do with gun laws, armed guard could have prevented tragedy
The synagogue was founded 150 years ago and offers members a "traditional Conservative service with a modern sense of family" and shabbat service on 9:45 a.m. Saturdays, according to the Tree of Life's website.
The congregation’s president declined to comment to the Associated Press.
Vice President Mike Pence tweeted that he was monitoring reports of the shooting. "Praying for the fallen, the injured, all the families impacted, and our courageous first responders. God bless them all," Pence tweeted