Shooter opens fire at Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Pittsburgh

Multiple people are dead after a shooter opened fire Saturday morning at the Tree of Life Congregation, a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

At least eight people were killed, law enforcement officials told local news station KDKA and NBC News. Several outlets, including NBC, KDKA and CNN reported that the suspect is 46-year-old Robert Bowers, citing police sources.

Six people were injured, four of whom were police officers, Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said at a Saturday afternoon press conference. He declined to comment on a specific total number of deaths and did not state the name of the suspect. He also declined to comment on whether weapons had been recovered.

“It’s a very horrific crime scene,” Hissrich said. “It’s one of the worst that I’ve seen, and I’ve seen some plane crashes. It’s very bad.”

Law enforcement had responded to reports of an active shooter at the synagogue, which was crowded for Saturday services in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood, shortly before 10 a.m. Police sources told KDKA that a gunman walked into the synagogue and yelled, “All Jews must die,” before opening fire.

The shooting will be prosecuted as a hate crime, the Pittsburgh Department of Public Safety said on Twitter.

RELATED: Shooter opens fire at Tree of Life Congregation synagogue

Congregation member Zachary Weiss, 26, told HuffPost that his father, Stephen Weiss, had been filling in on Saturday for a sick rabbi.

“Anytime a congregant passes away you lose a friend,” said Weiss, noting that his father was unharmed. “The city is coming together and right now that is all we can do.”

Multiple victims were being treated by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, spokeswoman Amy Charley said in a statement.

“At this time, UPMC Presbyterian is treating four patients from the Tree of Life synagogue shooting,” she said. “Three victims are in surgery and one other is stable, awaiting surgery. Another patient at UPMC Presbyterian was treated and released. UPMC Mercy is treating a patient who is currently in surgery.”

Jeff Finkelstein of the Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh told WHNT that he estimated between 60 and 100 people were inside the building when the shooting occurred.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf issued a statement calling for action to prevent future mass shootings.

“We must all pray and hope for no more loss of life. But we have been saying ‘this one is too many’ for far too long. Dangerous weapons are putting our citizens in harm’s way,” Wolf said.

“And in the aftermath of this tragedy, we must come together and take action to prevent these tragedies in the future. We cannot accept this violence as normal.”

The Tree of Life Congregation, founded more than 150 years ago, merged with Or L’Simcha in 2010 to form Tree of Life *Or L’Simcha, according to its website. The synagogue describes itself as a Conservative Jewish congregation with “traditional teachings,” adding that it’s “progressive and relevant to the way we live today.”

Rabbi Emeritus Alvin Berkun, who was not in the building at the time, told ABC News that the Squirrel Hill neighborhood hosts a number of other synagogues, along with Jewish gift shops and bookstores and kosher bakeries.

“Absolutely no crime, it’s an amazing neighborhood, it’s hard to believe it’s a city neighborhood,” he said.

The shooting took place on International Religious Freedom Day, the day that commemorates former U.S. President Bill Clinton signing the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act, which aimed to promote religious freedom through U.S. foreign policy.

Both New York City and Los Angeles confirmed that they were increasing security measures as a precaution in response to the Pittsburgh incident.

The New York Police Department told HuffPost it would be “deploying heavy weapons teams” at “houses of worship” across the city as a precaution in response to the Pittsburgh incident. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted that the LAPD would also be stepping up security.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.