Police in GTA boosting security at places of worship in wake of Pittsburgh synagogue shooting

Police respond to an active shooter situation at the Tree of Life synagogue on Wildins Avenue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pa., on Saturday, October 27, 2018. (Pam Panchak/Post-Gazette via AP)

Synagogues around the GTA will see an increased security presence today as a precaution following a deadly shooting at a synagogue in Pennsylvania.

Officials told the Canadian Press that multiple people were killed after a gunman opened fire on a baby-naming ceremony at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighbourhood Saturday morning. The shooting took place on the Jewish Sabbath when Jews traditionally attend synagogue.

Police said 11 people were killed and six others were wounded in the incident. The shooter was hit multiple times by police bullets and is being treated in hospital.

Officials in Pittsburgh have said they are investigating the shooting as a hate crime.

In a statement on its Facebook page Saturday, The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs said Canada’s Jewish community is “horrified” at the attack and is remaining vigilant in its wake.

“We are horrified and deeply disturbed to learn of the fatal attack on congregants at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh this morning during Shabbat services,” the statement read. “We want the community to know that UJA Federation, together with and our advocacy agent CIJA have been in ongoing contact with security officials in the GTA.

“We have not received information that suggests an increased security threat in Canada.”

CIJA said it is nonetheless working with police in Toronto and York Region to beef up security around Jewish facilities.
“We are paying special attention to places of worship,” YRP Duty Inspector Shannon Anderson told the Canadian Press.

She said officers will have an increased presence around places of worship in light of the tragedy.

“Obviously if anybody sees anything then please call police,” she added.

Toronto police said “public safety is our number one priority.”

“We continuously monitor issues and make appropriate adjustments in our plans in order to mitigate potential risks to public safety,” the statement read.

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