Mayor Bill Peduto Image Credit: AFP

Pittsburgh: The mayor of Pittsburgh called on Sunday for guns to be taken away from potential hate criminals, a day after 11 people were shot dead at a synagogue in the Pennsylvania city.

"I think the approach that we need to be looking at is how we take the guns, which is the common denominator of every mass shooting in America, out of the hands of those that are looking to express hatred through murder," Mayor Bill Peduto told a news conference.

All 11 synagogue victims have been identified and their families notified, authorities said on Sunday.

"After difficult work by the medical examiner's office, all 11 victims were positively identified and next of kin notifications took place," Robert Jones, the FBI agent in charge of the investigation, said at an early-morning press briefing.

They ranged in age from 54 to 97, said Karl Williams, the county medical examiner. They included two brothers and one married couple.

Robert Bowers, the man charged with killing 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue, made extreme anti-Semitic statements before launching the assault, officials said on Saturday.

"During the course of his deadly assault on the people of the synagogue, Bowers made statements regarding genocide and his desire to kill Jewish people," Scott Brady, US Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, told a news conference.


Earlier report

The suspect in Saturday's mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue is a 46-year-old local man named Robert Bowers who posted virulent anti-Semitic messages on social media filled with slurs and conspiracy theories.

Armed with a rifle and three handguns, Robert Bowers walked inside the synagogue during Saturday morning worship and began shooting, killing 11 and wounding six before police took him into custody, officials said. It was the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history, according to the leader of the Anti-Defamation League.

Bowers traded gunfire with police and was shot multiple times but survived. He was charged late Saturday with 29 federal counts, including weapons offenses and hate crimes. Law enforcement officials planned to discuss the massacre at a news conference Sunday morning.

Two hours before a gunman burst into the Tree of Life synagogue and opened fire during a Shabbat religious service, Bowers posted on chat site Gab.com about the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), a non-profit that helps Jewish refugees relocate to the United States.

"HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can't sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I'm going in," wrote Bowers, a heavy-set, white male.

The gunman reportedly shouted anti-Semitic phrases during the shooting, which left 11 people dead and five injured, including four police officers.

The suspect, a Pittsburgh resident, was shot and in fair condition at a hospital, authorities said.

Gab.com said in a statement that when it learned of the shooting suspect's profile on its site, it took "swift and proactive" action to contact law enforcement immediately.

Gab, which promotes itself as a free-speech alternative to the more heavily policed Twitter and has been a popular gathering space for the alt-right, said it backed up the user data and suspended the account, then told the Federal Bureau of Investigation about the data held by the company.

"Gab unequivocally disavows and condemns all acts of terrorism and violence," the company's statement said.

Bower has an active firearms license and has made at least six known gun purchases since 1996, a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation told CNN. He did not have a criminal record and was not known to police, law enforcement officials said on Saturday.

An archive of Bower's Gab posts since he joined the site in January showed an angry, anti-Semitic man who shared messages such as: "Daily Reminder: Diversity means chasing down the last white person." About a month ago he posted pictures showing what appeared to the results of his target practice at a shooting range, and a collection of three handguns that he called his "glock family." Police said the suspect had three handguns and an assault-style rife at the shooting. It's unclear whether they were the same handguns as the ones in the photo.

Bowers, who is a registered voter with "no affiliation" in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, took aim in one post at U.S.

President Donald Trump, accusing him of being a "globalist" who did nothing to stop the "infestation" of the United States by Jews.

"For the record, I did not vote for him nor have I owned, worn or even touched a MAGA hat," he wrote. MAGA is an acronym for Make America Great Again that is frequently used by Trump.

US flags lowered

President Donald Trump has ordered flags at federal buildings throughout the United States to be flown at half-staff in "solemn respect" for the shooting victims at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

Trump condemned the shooting as an "evil anti-Semitic attack." Trump acknowledged the weight these moments carry, telling reporters that experiencing such events as president, "it's a level of terribleness and horror that you can't even believe. It's hard to believe."

What happened?

A shooter opened fire during a baby-naming ceremony at a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday, killing at least 11 people, authorities and media reported. 

Police said a suspect was in custody after the attack at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighbourhood.

Deadliest mass shootings in the US

A law enforcement official identified the suspect as Robert Bowers and said he is in his 40s.

The official wasn't authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. Police said "several" people were killed.

Six were wounded, including the four police officers, said Wendell Hissrich, the Pittsburgh public safety director.

Earlier, US President Donald trump responded to the news of the shooting in a tweet. 

Police spokesman Chris Togneri says police have no more information at this time because they are still trying to clear the building and figure out if any more threats exist.

Media reported at least four people killed on Saturday after police in the US city of Pittsburgh were called to an "active shooter," reportedly near a synagogue.

CBS reported that seven people were confirmed dead, and that two police officers had been shot, while Fox put the death toll at four.

"There is an active shooter in the area of Wilkins and Shady," Pittsburgh's Public Safety department, which includes the police, said on Twitter.

The Tree of Life congregation is located in the area cited by police.

Television pictures showed a police SWAT team and ambulances in the area.

It is the latest shooting incident in the United States, where firearms are linked to more than 30,000 deaths annually.


Ivanka Trump: 'America is stronger than [such] acts'

Ivanka Trump on Saturday denounced the "depraved" attack at a Pittsburgh synagogue, where a gunman reportedly killed at least four people.

"America is stronger than the acts of a depraved bigot and anti-Semite," Trump, the president's daughter and a convert to Judaism, said on Twitter.

"All good Americans stand with the Jewish people to oppose acts of terror & share the horror, disgust & outrage over the massacre in Pittsburgh. We must unite against hatred & evil."

Trump converted before marrying her husband Jared Kushner, who practices Orthodox Judaism.


Donald Trump: 'Something has to be done'

US President Donald Trump hit out Saturday at what he called "hate" in America after a gunman opened fire at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, killing and injuring several people.

"It's a terrible, terrible thing what's going on with hate in our country, frankly, and all over the world," Trump told reporters before leaving for a series of campaign events in Indiana and Illinois.

"Something has to be done," said the president. "When people do this, they should get the death penalty."

As local media reported the death toll in Pennsylvania could be as high as eight people, Trump said the shooting appeared "far more devastating than anybody originally thought."

"The world is a violent world," he said, calling the suspect "a mad man, a whacko."

Asked whether it was time to revisit the country's lenient gun laws, the president suggested instead that the toll might have been far lower had armed guards been posted in the synagogue, which they reportedly do only on the religion's High Holy Days.

"If they had protection inside the temple, maybe it could have been a very much different situation," he said. "They didn't."

But Trump did call for stiffer penalties and speedier justice.

"I think they should very much bring the death penalty into vogue," he said. "Anybody who does a thing like this to innocent people in temple, in church... they should really suffer the ultimate price."


What does the Pope have to say?

Pope Francis on Sunday called a deadly attack on a synagogue in the United States "an inhuman act of violence", expressing his "closeness to the Jewish community". 

 


A look at mass shootings in the US over the years

Over the past 10 years in the US, there have been mass shootings at a Texas church (26 people died), at a mainly African American church in South Carolina (nine dead), at two Jewish centers in Kansas City, Kansas (three dead), at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin (six dead, plus the shooter), and at a Unitarian church in Tennessee (two dead).

Asked if all churches and synagogues should have armed guards, Trump replied, "I hate to think of it that way."

He then added: "Certainly you want protection. They didn't have any protection. ... Results could have been much better."