UPDATE: According to reports, a suspect, described as “a white male with a beard”, was taken into custody for his involvement in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting in Squirrel Hill. The suspect was reportedly injured when he surrendered after exchanging gunfire with police.
While a motive and identity have yet to be released, there are reports that the suspect expressed anti-Semetic views as heard on the police scanner.
Original Story: Reports surfaced Saturday morning of an active shooting near The Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A heavy police presence was spotted in the area, though few details were immediately made available.
There are reported mass casualties.
At least four people have been reported dead, possibly as many as 7 to 8 could be dead, according to KDKA. WHNT-15 reports officials say four people are dead on the main floor and three in the basement of the building, with multiple other injuries.
The synagogue was preparing for a service at the time police received calls that members of the congregation were barricaded inside.
Police reportedly exchanged gunfire with the suspected gunman, with three officers getting wounded.
Members of the congregation have been rescued, while efforts to rescue others continue.
“There is an active shooter in the area of WILKINS and Shady,” the Pittsburgh Public Safety Department said in a tweet. “Avoid the area. More info will be released when it is available.”
Witnesses who called 911 said the gunman walked into the synagogue and opened fire, but other details were not immediately known. Police were searching the building as of 10:45 a.m. to evacuate those trapped.
According to initial reports, multiple people have been shot, but the exact number was not immediately known. There is also no word on the status of the shooter, who was last reported to still be inside the building.
Carnegie Mellon University, which is near the synagogue, has issued a lockdown.
Where Is The Tree Of Life Synagogue?
Tree of Life * Or L’Simcha is a traditional, progressive and egalitarian Jewish congregation located in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood.
The website states, “Tree of Life Congregation was founded more than 150 years ago, Or L’Simcha about 5 years ago. In 2010, the two Pittsburgh congregations merged to form Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha. As a conservative Jewish congregation, Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha remains true to traditional teachings, yet is also progressive and relevant to the way we live today.”
The synagogue is located on the corner of Wilkins and Shady Avenue.