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Pittsburgh mourns as names of synagogue shooting victims emerge

A day after 11 people at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh were killed in the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in U.S. history, communities there were mourning and considering what precautions will help them feel safe. Meanwhile, suspect Robert Bowers is awaiting trial for dozens of charges that could lead to the death penalty. Ivette Feliciano joins Hari Sreenivasan from the scene.

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  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Good evening and thank you for joining us.

    On the day after the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in U.S. history, somber officials formally charged the man who murdered eleven people and injured six others at the tree of life synagogue in Pittsburgh.

    46-year-old Robert Bowers faces 29 federal and dozens of state charges for homicide and aggravated assault — including murdering victims for exercising their religious beliefs — a hate crime. He could face the death penalty.

  • SCOTT W. BRADY. ATTORNEY FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA:

    The fact that this attack took place during a worship service makes it even more heinous. A place of worship is a sacred place.

  • MAYOR BILL PEDUTO:

    We will be here to help you through this horrific episode. We'll get through this darkest day of Pittsburgh's history by working together.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    At the Tree of Life Synagogue, community members continued to stop at a growing memorial throughout the day.

    The 11 people who died in the mass shooting ranged in age from 54 to 97.

    Joyce Fienberg was 75. She retired after a long career as a researcher at the university of Pittsburgh.

    Richard Gottfried, 65, had just celebrated his 38th wedding anniversary.

    97-year-old Rose Mallinger was a devoted member of the congregation.

    Jerry Rabinowitz, 66 was a family physician.

    Cecil Rosenthal, 59, and David Rosenthal, 54 were brothers who attended services every Saturday.

    Bernice Simon, 84 and Sylvan Simon, 86 were husband and wife.

    71-year-old Daniel Stein, was a former president of the new light congregation.

    Melvin Wax, 88, was a retired accountant,

    And 69 year old Irving Younger taught classes on current events at the local community center, and had two grandchildren.

    NewsHour Weekend's Ivette Feliciano traveled to Pittsburgh and has been with some members of the community.

  • IVETTE FELICIANO:

    17-year-old Emily Pressman helped organize yesterday's vigil led by local high school students

  • EMILY PRESSMAN:

    I don't think I've accepted the fact that this happened to us.

  • IVETTE FELICIANO:

    Emily and her mother Stacy were glued to the television this morning when the names of the 11 people killed at the tree of life synagogue were released. Emily and her siblings went to Hebrew school there, and the family often goes to the temple for social gatherings like weddings and bar and bat mitzvahs.

  • EMILY PRESSMAN:

    I mean I could have been there. I know so many people who are part of that congregation that could have been there. And the people who were there just I mean they're there my hearts are in everyone's hearts right now.

  • IVETTE FELICIANO:

    The Tree of Life synagogue is one of several in this tight-knit community that is home to a third of Pittsburgh's Jewish population. It housed three congregations and was a center of activity. Like most people we've talked to here, Emily and her mom were confident they'd know some of the victims, and they were right.

  • EMILY PRESSMAN:

    I know two of them I know that they were always greeted me, they were very kind souls they brought smiles to my face. They were very close to my fam- one of my best friends…

  • STACEY PRESSMAN:

    It's just starting to sink in this morning. I woke up this morning tired with a pit in my stomach for a second not really knowing why. And then I remembered what happened. I mean these are wonderful people in our Jewish community. These are the people who were in synagogue on a Saturday morning. These were the diehards who were there because they wanted to celebrate their faith. They were wonderful older members of our community.

  • IVETTE FELICIANO:

    Emily pressman said she and others in the community felt helpless watching the news yesterday and needed to take action.

  • EMILY PRESSMAN:

    I mean people were murdered for their faith. It's not just saying something anymore it's not just a pointing a picture and saying go die jew it's them honestly shooting a gun in people's faces. And it's killing them. I think people are upset. I think people are angry and I think there's a fine line between angry and hate. And right now we just have to make sure that people don't cross that line

  • ADAM HERTZMAN:

    I was a member, my family were members of the before it merged with tree of life congregation. It's just really a warm, welcoming environment and place, and so I'm absolutely heartbroken.

  • IVETTE FELICIANO:

    Adam Hertzman is the director of marketing for the Jewish federation of greater Pittsburgh. He says the organization has seen a rise in anti-Semitic vandalism over the last few months.

  • ADAM HERTZMAN:

    As an example there were pamphlets put on cars in the squirrel hill area with anti-Semitic rhetoric on them. And there is, I think, sadly in this society always an undercurrent of racism and anti-Semitism.

  • IVETTE FELICIANO:

    Emily pressman says if this could happen in Squirrel Hill, it could happen anywhere.

  • EMILY PRESSMAN:

    Is there a time where anti-Semitism has occurred in Pittsburgh. Yes. Do I think that happens every year. Yes. Do I think that's why it has happened, no. We're just an unlucky place when there are unlucky people in a building. And that's all that happened.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    PBS NewsHour Weekend's Ivette Feliciano joins me now from near the synagogue in Pittsburgh.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Ivette, yesterday the president made some comments about how the presence of an armed guard at the synagogue could have helped to prevent this massacre or to save lives. What do the people in that neighborhood that you've spoken to, how do they feel about this?

  • IVETTE FELICIANO:

    Hari, those comments have gotten a mixed reaction from people we've spoken to here on the ground. Emily Pressmen and her mom Stacey, who we had been speaking with say they are very opposed to that idea. Emily already attends a high school here in the community where she has to walk through a metal detector everyday. And she says that makes her feel like it's a militarized place and she wouldn't want that at her local synagogue where she says it's always felt like a safe space for her and a welcoming space and she feels the presence of an armed guard would change that dynamic. And generally she expressed some frustration at the notion that the community that was targeted could have done something more to prevent this tragic event.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Ivette, in your report we heard that there had been an uptick in anti-Semitic vandalism in the area. How is the community reacting to that?

  • IVETTE FELICIANO:

    That is something that we heard from the representative of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh who said, you know, they have seen an uptick. He didn't want me to overstate the number of incidents because it's generally been a safe area but they have seen that uptick and what they've been doing is working with the local synagogues and Jewish schools and Jewish agencies to do active shooter trainings in the area and that's something that he believes will continue in the coming weeks.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    All right. What's next for this community this week? What would it what are the things that are coming up in the next few days?

  • IVETTE FELICIANO:

    What we heard from people that we were speaking with today is that we need to give the families of the victims time to mourn. We can expect to see a few more vigils this week and in addition to the grieving and religious communities coming together to mourn, we've also seen a heightened police presence outside of religious institutions and public buildings. So we can expect to see a lot of that in the coming week.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    All right. Ivette Feliciano joining us from Pittsburgh tonight. Thanks so much.

  • IVETTE FELICIANO:

    Thank you

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