Chicago (CBS) — Police said 46-year-old Robert Bowers posted “I’m going in” on social media Saturday morning. Five minutes later, terrified worshippers called 911 reporting a man shooting inside their Pittsburgh synagogue.
The relentless attack on worshippers at the Tree of Life Synagogue went on for 20 minutes, leaving 11 people dead. Bowers stopped only when shot by Pittsburgh SWAT team members.
The FBI is calling the killings hate crimes.
“During the course of his deadly assault on the people of the synagogue, Bowers made statements regarding genocide and his desire to kill Jewish people,” said U.S. Attorney Scott Brady.
Among the 11 who were killed are a former deputy district attorney, two brothers and a couple who had been married at that synagogue.
President Trump in Indiana condemned the attack.
“This wicked act of mass murder is pure evil, hard to believe,” Pres. Trump said.
The Anti-Defamation League is calling it the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in American history, one that is striking fear in the Chicago area.
At the Skokie Valley Synagogue, all entrances and exits except the front door are now locked. Rabbi Ari Hart has applied for and received a $150,000 grant for added security measures.
“It’s a great American tragedy that houses of worship might need armed guards,” Hart said. “We made the decision many years ago to have one here.”
Illinois is far from immune to anti-Semitic hate crimes.
One example is an incident last year when a Chicago man was charged with a hate crime after police said he broke a window at a Loop synagogue and put swastikas on the door.
The ADL reports anti-Semitic crimes in Illinois have jumped dramatically in the last two years from 14 in 2015 and 10 in 2016 to 47 last year.
Nationally, the ADL reports a nearly 60 percent increase in 2017 alone, an unexplainable local and national epidemic of hate that most recently boiled over in a seemingly normal middle-aged man in Pittsburgh.
Robert Bowers is said to have frequently posted anti-Semitic statements and threats online. He is in the hospital in fair condition. He has a court appearance Monday.