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At least four reported dead, 12 injured in shooting at Pittsburgh synagogue

The Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Pittsburgh/Courtesy

At least four people were killed and 12 shot and three officers injured responding to an active shooting incident at a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday, local media and CNN reported.

“There are fatalities,” an emergency responder said on local television station KDKA. The conditions of the officers were not immediately known.

A “bearded heavy-set white male” was in custody, KDKA said, adding that responding officers “received fire.”

The suspect is in custody, said Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, who was at the scene of the shooting according to local media. “We are providing local first responders with whatever help they need,” Wolf said on Twitter.

Earlier, a police commander said the shooting resulted in “multiple casualties.” Police surrounded the Tree of Life synagogue after reports of an active shooter at the building in the city’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood, local TV news images showed.

“Do not come out of your home right now, it is not safe,” Pittsburgh police Commander Jason Lando warned local residents, in an impromptu news conference at the scene.

The synagogue was holding a shabbat religious service that started at 9:45 a.m. (1345 GMT), according to the organization’s website. Sam Schachner, president of Tree of Life, said in a phone call he had no comment at this time.

Michael Eisenberg, former president of the synagogue, told KDKA that police were normally only present at the synagogue for security on high holidays.

“On a day like today, the door is open, it’s a religious service, you can walk in and out,” he said.

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Jeff Finkelstein, CEO of Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, told reporters that on a typical Saturday morning about 50 or 60 people worship at Tree of Life Synagogue. The Squirrel Hill area is a heavily Jewish neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Finkelstein said.

Local TV news footage showed police at that location with rifles and wearing helmets and other tactical gear. Paramedics also were stationed near the synagogue and police vehicles were blocking some streets in the area.

U.S. President Donald Trump said in a tweet he was watching developments in Pittsburgh.

The Tree of Life synagogue describes itself on its website as a conservative congregation that is traditional, progressive and egalitarian.

On November 5, 2017, a former U.S. serviceman with an assault rifle killed 26 people and wounded 20 in a rural Texas church during Sunday services.

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