They were two brothers, a longtime married couple, a respected doctor and one was a 97-year-old woman. All had come to the Tree of Life temple in Pittsburgh on Saturday morning to pray and find peace in each other’s company only to be targeted by an alleged killer with a twisted anti-Semitic motive.
A day after the rampage at the synagogue in the normally tranquil neighborhood of Squirrel Hill, loved ones and friends of the 11 people gunned down were left mourning and outraged by the explosion of deadly hate that entered their beloved place of worship.
“The fact that this attack took place during a worship service makes it even more heinous,” Scott Brady, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, said at a news conference in Pittsburgh on Sunday morning. “A place of worship is a sacred place. It’s a place of peace and a place of grace. It’s a place where a community comes together. And this, of course, is our first freedom as a people.”
The names of those killed in the Saturday morning massacre allegedly carried out by Robert Gregory Bower, 46, of Pittsburgh, were released Sunday by the Allegheny County medical examiner.
The oldest victim was 97-year-old Rose Mallinger, who lived in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood and was a faithful member of the Tree of Life temple.
Brothers Cecil and David Rosenthal were at the synagogue together and were gunned down, officials said. Cecil was 59 years old, while his brother was 54.
Also killed were husband and wife Sylvin Simon, 86, and Bernice Simon, 84, who lived in Wilkinsburg, a suburb of Pittsburgh.
The other victims were identified as Joyce Fienberg, 75, of Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood; Richard Gottfried, 65, of Ross Township, Pennsylvania; Jerry Rabinowitz, 66, of Edgewood Borough near Pittsburgh; and Irving Younger, 69, of the Mt. Washington neighborhood of Pittsburgh.
Daniel Stein, 71, and Melvin Wax, 88, both of Squirrel Hill, were shot to death, too.
Law Claus, former Allegheny County deputy district attorney, said Rabinowitz was his family physician.
“Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz was more than just a physician for me and my family; for over three decades he was truly a trusted confidant and healer who could always be counted upon to provide sage advice whenever he was consulted on medical matters, usually providing that advice with a touch of genuine humor,” Claus told ABC affiliate station WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh. “He had a truly uplifting demeanor, and as a practicing physician he was among the very best.”
The Pittsburgh Steelers held a moment of silence before Sunday afternoon’s football game at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh to honor the victims.
“On behalf of the entire Steelers organization, we offer our support and condolences to the families of the attack on peaceful citizens worshiping at the Tree of Life synagogue. Our hearts are heavy, but we must stand against anti-Semitism and hate crimes of any nature and come together to preserve our values and our community,” Art Rooney II, the president of the Steelers, said in a statement.
President Trump offered condolences on Twitter and ordered that flags be lowered to half-staff at the White House and other federal buildings.
Erika Strassburger, a Pittsburgh City Council member who lives two blocks from the synagogue, said she knew some of those killed.
“The sadness and the fear … was immediately apparent with the people I was with [and] was heartbreaking,” Strassburger said on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday morning of when she first learned of the mass shooting. “And I got on the scene as soon as I could just to find out more. The hardest part is waiting to find out more.”
On Saturday night, hundreds of community residents gathered near the synagogue for a candlelight vigil. Another vigil to remember the victims is scheduled for Sunday evening.
“For a Jewish community and especially for the families who’ve been affected, and it’s real when once you hear the names, we’re going to do everything we can to help the families,” Jeffrey Finkelstein, the chief executive officer of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, said at Sunday’s news conference. “We’re in the process of doing that now and will be there for them and be there to help our Jewish community in the Pittsburgh.”