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Latest On Pittsburgh Deadly Synagogue Mass Shooting


We're here because we wanted to spend some time talking about the midterm elections, which are just a few days away. But we're going to begin our program with news of another horrific mass shooting, this time at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pa. Eleven people died, and at least six were injured, including four police officers. A public safety official in the city described the synagogue as an horrific crime scene. The alleged gunman, a man named Robert Bowers, was taken into custody. Reporter Kathleen Davis of member station WESA is covering this tragedy, and she is with us now.

Kathleen, thank you so much for talking to us. What do we know about the identity of the victim so far? We do know that police officers were among the wounded.

KATHLEEN DAVIS, BYLINE: Sure. So victims - the ones who have unfortunately died - have not been identified so far. There's a press conference tomorrow morning at 9:00 Eastern Time where an official from the coroner's office is expected to speak, so we're expecting that there will be a little bit more information about the victims here. But, as you said, six people have - or were injured in the shooting, four of them police officers, and they were all taken to hospitals. Two of them are said to be in critical condition, but the other four seem to be doing OK.

MARTIN: And can you tell us any more about the alleged gunman, Robert Bowers? I understand he was taken into custody alive.

DAVIS: Yeah. So not a whole lot is being said about Bowers. Officials did say today that they are investigating this crime as a hate crime, and so it falls under the jurisdiction of the FBI. But, besides that, we don't know a whole lot about him.

MARTIN: Can you tell us any more about what type of weapon or weapons were used and how long it took to subdue him?

DAVIS: Sure. So at the scene, there were three handguns and one assault rifle recovered. Officials said they weren't sure if all of those were used in the shooting, but they were recovered at the scene. The whole situation seemed to have lasted about 20 minutes. Bowers entered the synagogue, and that is where the shooting happened. And then officials say he walked out of the synagogue and was engaged by a police officer. And there was a bit of a shooting exchange there, and then Bowers went back into the synagogue, and they eventually recovered him.

MARTIN: And, before we conclude here, can you tell us whether there were any security guards posted? And the reason I mention that is that President Trump rejected the notion that this had anything to do with gun laws. He said that if the synagogue had had an armed guard inside that the gunman could have been stopped sooner. And I just wanted to ask you about that.

DAVIS: There were no security guards at the synagogue.

MARTIN: OK. If we have just a bit of time left, could you tell us about the community where this happened?

DAVIS: Sure. So Squirrel Hill is this very vibrant community. It's residential. It's about four miles from downtown. It is known as the hub for Jewish life in Pittsburgh. And a lot of community members have expressed, you know, obviously a lot of sadness and shock about this because this is known as a safe community.

MARTIN: That is reporter Kathleen Davis of member station WESA in Pittsburgh.

Kathleen, thank you so much for talking with us.

DAVIS: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Kathleen Davis is currently completing her senior year at the University of Michigan, where she studies Political Science and International Studies. She previously worked at the Michigan Daily for four years, where she wrote about art and culture and was the 2015 Managing Arts Editor.